The origins of the Moche culture are one of the most hotly debated issues among scholars of Andean prehistory. The discoveries at Sipán by Walter Alva and his team have forced researchers to reevaluate Larco’s pioneering proposals, made more than 50 years ago. The appearance of Moche in the Lambayeque valley at the end of the first century A.D. is one argument scholars use to propose that early on there were two independent centers of Moche society, linked by ceremony and sacred ritual. This era lasted until the end of the Moche III phase (A.D. 400), when the southern Moche dominated the northern one through military conquest up to the seventh century A.D.
At its apogee the Moche sphere extended from Piura in the north to Huarmey in the south, with the Huacas del Sol y de la Luna serving as the urban and ceremonial center of this vast territory. The loss of prestige by Moche elites and the influence of foreign cultures from the central coast and highlands marked the beginning of the end of Moche society.