Ancient temple discovered in Peru

Archaeologists in Peru have uncovered what they believe is a temple, estimated to be up to 5,000 years old, at the site of El Paraiso, north of Lima.

Inside the ruins of the ancient room, which measures about 23 feet by 26 feet, there's evidence of a ceremonial hearth, where offerings may have been burned, archaeologists say. The temple also had a narrow entrance and stone walls covered with yellow clay, on which traces of red paint were found, according to a statement from Peru's Ministry of Culture.

El Paraiso, located on the central coast of Peru, just north of Lima, is a site made up of ten buildings stretching over 123 acres. It's one of the earliest known examples of monumental stone architecture in the Americas, dating back to the Late Preceramic period (3500-1800 BC). The newly found building is thought to date back to 3000 B.C., which should be confirmed with a radiocarbon analysis.

Rafael Varon, Peru's deputy minister for culture, said in a statement that the discovery of the temple "has particular importance because it is the first structure of this type found on the central coast." It suggests that the Lima region had more religious, economic and political importance during this early period than previously thought, Varon added.

Follow LiveScience on Twitter @livescience. We're also on Facebook & Google+.

Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Watch Now

New Android App

For your Android phone and tablet, download the FREE redesigned app, featuring CBSN, live 24/7 news.

Download
The all new
CBS News App for Android® for iPad® for iPhone®
Fully redesigned. Featuring CBSN, 24/7 live news. Get the App