The Moche civilization (also known as the Mochica) flourished along the northern coast and valleys of ancient Peru, in particular, in the Chicama and Trujillo Valleys, between 1 CE and 800 CE. The Moche state spread to eventually cover an area from the Huarmey Valley in the south to the Piura Valley in the north, and they even extended their influence as far afield as the Chincha Islands. Moche territory was divided linguistically by two separate but related languages: Muchic (spoken north of the Lambayeque Valley) and Quingan. The two areas also display slightly different artistic and architectural trends and so the Moche state may be better described as a loose confederacy rather than a single, unified entity.
The Moche were contemporary with the Nazca civilization (200 BCE - 600 CE) further down the coast but, thanks to their conquest of surrounding territories, they were able to accumulate the wealth and power necessary to establish themselves as one of the most unique and important early-Andean cultures. The Moche also expressed themselves in art with such a high degree of aesthetics that their naturalistic and vibrant murals, ceramics, and metalwork are amongst the most highly regarded in the Americas.