Whatsapp InkaNatura Travel
Contact us



Señora de Cao: The Lady of Cao

Posted by Carmen Maria Guevara Protzel on Mar 29, 2018 11:08:17 AM


Señora de Cao The Lady of Cao

In 2006, a mummified Moche woman was discovered at the Huaca Cao Viejo as part of the El Brujo archaeological site by a team of Peruvian archaeologists led by Regulo Franco Jordan of the National Cultural Institute of Peru.

She was given the name The Lady of Cao and is the best-preserved Moche mummy found to date. Locals refer to her as "Señora de Cao." The Lady of Cao's death is estimated at 450 CE or about 1700 years ago.

Moche history may be divided into three periods – Early Moche (100–300 AD), its expansion during Middle Moche (300–600 AD), and Late Moche (500–750 AD). The Moche cultural sphere is centered on several valleys on the north coast of Peru in regions La Libertad, Jequetepeque, Chicama, Lambayeque, Moche, Santa, Virú, Chao, and Nepena and occupied desert coastline and up to 50 miles inland.

The Lady of Cao was discovered wrapped in many layers of cloth and was housed in an elaborate tomb that had remarkable decoration. She was heavily tattooed with spiders, snakes, crabs and other supernatural symbols. Buried with her were a number of ceremonial items which included jewelry and weapons.

The elaborate burial site surprised archaeologist because the presence of weapons suggested that the woman was a Moche ruler or a high-ranking priestess. Back then, it was believed that only men held high ranks in the Moche culture. To find the Lady of Cao buried with such care and richness contradicted the belief that the Moche was a male-dominating culture.

Experts told National Geographic she was likely an aristocrat from the Moche culture, possibly ruling what is now identified as the Chicama District region of northern Peru.

After an autopsy was conducted, it was revealed that the Lady of Cao died in her mid-twenties due to complications of pregnancy or childbirth. Also found at the site was another body; it was a strangled adolescent woman who was most likely a servant. Believed to be a possibly a human sacrifice. Since then, several Moche female mummies have also been found in graves with objects denoting a high political and religious standing, proving that women from that culture held high-ranking positions.

Lady of Cao: The Mystery of the Tattooed Mummy

There's been so much fascination around the Lady of Cao and her position in the Moche culture that a documentary titled Lady of Cao: The Mystery of the Tattooed Mummy was created. The film recreated a Moche village with royal palaces, pyramids, and temples of worship which were built in the Chicama Valley.


Video by Explora Films

The film was carried out by the Spanish company, Explora Films. They recreated the mausoleum housing the tomb of the sovereign and decorated it with pre-Columbian paintings, drawings and geometric representations of their deities. Also recreated was the ceremonial plaza of Cao, complete with polychrome murals that represented a line of prisoners who were tied up, walking towards the figure of the Great Decapitator, the highest deity.

How to Get to Cao Museum El Brujo

The Lady of Cao can be viewed at Cao Museum El Brujo Archaeological Complex which is located in Chicama Valley - 60 Km north of Trujillo - North Pan-American Highway - left deviation 25 Km.


BY PLANE: Up to Trujillo - 1Hr

BY BUS: Up Trujillo - 8Hr

TAKE BUS: Up to Chocope - 1Hr

Then a car to Magdalena de Cao - 20 Min

Or take Mototaxi or bicycle to El Brujo - 15 Min



BY CAR: Up to Trujillo - 40Min

TAKE BUS: Up to Chocope - 1Hr

Then a car to Magdalena de Cao - 20Min

And a motorcycle or Mototaxi to El Brujo - 15Min



TAKE BUS: Up to Chocope - 3Hr

Then a car to Magdalena de Cao - 20Min

And a Mototaxi to El Brujo - 10Min


You can stop and visit when taking a Northern Peru program.

For further information Contact us

Carmen Maria Guevara Protzel

Topics: Señora de Cao, The Lady of Cao

Leave a comment!

Subscribe to our blog and discover Peru.

Peru Travel Essentials

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all