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 Paraíso, north of Lima.
Inside the ruins of the ancient room, which measures about 23 feet by 26 feet (7 meters by 8 meters), 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 Paraíso, located on the central coast of Peru, just north of Lima, is a site made up of ten buildings stretching over 123 acres (50 hectares). 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 Varón, 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, Varón added.
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