Anthropology •  Archaeology and Latin America

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Moche Fineline Painting from San José de Moro

Donna McClelland
Donald McClelland
Christopher B. Donnan

Moche civilization flourished on the north coast of Peru from AD 200 to 800. Although the Moche had no writing system, they left a vivid artistic record of their beliefs and activities on intricately painted ceramic vessels, several thousand of which are scattered in museums and private collections throughout the world today. Unfortunately, nearly all were looted by grave robbers so their origin and context are unknown. In recent years, however, through a combination of archaeological excavation and stylistic analysis, it has been possible to identify more than 250 painted vessels from the site of San Josè de Moro. To date, this is the largest sample of Moche art from a single place and time. Thus it provides a unique opportunity to identify a distinct sub-style of Moche ceramics, and to assess its range of artistic and technological variation. Moreover, within the sample it is possible to identify multiple paintings by 18 different artists, thus elucidating the range of subject matter that an artist would paint, as well as the variation in the way he would portray the same scene. By discussing and illustrating more than 200 painted vessels from San Josè de Moro, this volume provides insights about a community of ancient Peruvian potters who shared a distinctive painting style and left a fascinating record of their achievement.


Donna McClelland was a research associate in the University of Calfornia, Los Angeles's Moche Archive.

Donald McClelland is a research associate in the UCLA Moche Archive.

Christopher B. Donnan is professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Published By The Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press

11 x 8.5 in. 208 pages 240 color photos, 251 figures