5,000 year-old temple found in Peru
|Ancient temple: Peruvaian archaeologists estimate the temple at the El Parison site is 5,000 years old [Credit: Peruvian Culture Ministry]|
The discovery, dubbed the Temple of Fire, was found in one of the wings of El Paraiso's main pyramid.
It includes a hearth that experts believe was used to burn ceremonial offerings.
"The smoke allowed the priests to connect with the gods," said Marco Guillen, who led the team of researchers who made the find.
Archaeologists found the hearth in mid-January as they were carrying out conservation work at a set of 4,000-year-old ruins known as El Paraiso, located 40 kilometres north-east of Lima in the Chillon River Valley.
Deputy culture minister Rafael Varon told reporters the discovery shows "that the Lima region was a focus of civilisations in the Andean territory".
Archaeologists believe the ancient coastal civilisations raised crops including cotton, which they traded with coastal fishermen for food.
El Paraiso, spread across 50 hectares, has 10 buildings and is one of the largest ancient sites in central Peru.
Source: AFP [February 13, 2013]