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The Moche civilization controlled a strip of some 400 km (250 miles) along the north coast of Peru. They were skilled farmers and cut canals to irrigate their land, kept all their water channels clean, and even introduced soil fertilizers in the form of guano (bird excrement). They became prosperous and built pyramid-like structures called 'huacas'. The largest of these was the Huaca del Sol, which was more than 41 m (135 ft) high. One huaca was built at Sipan on the coast. The Moche were very great artists. Their amazing pottery was produced without a potter's wheel and they were the first South American potters to produce clay objects from moulds. Very vivid images of Moche life appear on bottles and jugs. Most Moche pottery is decorated with red, white, or earth-coloured designs, and the subject matter ranges from gods to owls and serpents. Their knowledge of gold metal working was very advanced. In 1987 the tomb of two lords was uncovered in the pyramid at Sipan; it contained many breathtaking gold objects.

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