Definition: The Huaca del Sol is an enormous adobe (mud brick) Moche civilization pyramid, built in at least eight different stages between AD 0-600 at the site of Cerro Blanco in the Moche Valley of the northern coast of Peru. The Huaca del Sol (the name means Shrine or Pyramid of the Sun) is the largest mud-brick pyramid in the American continents; although much eroded today, it still measures 345 by 160 meters and is over 40 meters tall. Extensive looting, the purposeful diversion of the river alongside the Huaca del Sol, and repeated El Niño climatic events have impacted the monument over the centuries, but it is still impressive.
The area surrounding Huaca del Sol and its sister pyramid Huaca de la Luna was an urban settlement of at least one square kilometer, with midden and rubble deposits up to seven meters thick, from public buildings, residential areas and other architecture buried beneath the floodplains of the Moche River.
Huaca del Sol was abandoned after a large flood in AD 560, and it was likely the influence of similar El Niño-triggered climate events that did much of the damage to Huaca del Sol.
Archaeologists associated with investigations at Huaca del Sol include Max Uhle, Rafael Larco Hoyle, Christopher Donnan, and Santiago Uceda.
Moseley, M. E. 1996. Huaca del Sol. Pps 316-318 in Oxford Companion to Archaeology, Brian Fagan, ed. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Sutter, R. C. and R. J. Cortez 2005 The Nature of Moche Human Sacrifice: A Bio-Archaeological Perspective. Current Anthropology 46(4):521-550.
S. Uceda, E. Mujica, and R. Morales. Las Huacas del Sol y de la Luna. This site is a marvelous source of information about the Moche, and has English and Spanish content.
This glossary entry is part of the Dictionary of Archaeology.