A team of archaeologists from the Peruvian Culture Ministry has discovered a temple and a hearth some 5,000 years old at the El Paraiso archaeological complex, east of Lima.

The scientists found the hearth – where ceremonial offerings were burned and which has characteristics never seen before in the Lima area – in the right wing of the Main Pyramid at the complex, Deputy Culture Minister Rafael Varon said.

"This find opens a new road for the El Paraiso Archaeological Complex, for research and comprehensive recovery of all the monument's secrets," he said in a statement.

The ruined temple measures 6.82 meters by 8.04 meters (22 by 26 feet).

Its only access passageway, just 48 centimeters (19 inches) wide, is relatively narrow, as if to allow only a single person at a time to enter the central portion of the temple, the ministry said.

In the center of the temple is a sloping rectangular floor, to which one gains access via a step 45 centimeters (about 18 inches) high.

In the center of this sloping floor is the ceremonial hearth, a space where offerings to the gods were burned.

The exact age of the temple will be determined by carbon dating.

"This discovery at the El Paraiso Archaeological Complex has particular importance because it is the first of this type of structure found on the central coast, which corroborates the fact that the ... Lima region was one of the focus of the civilizations in the Andean territory," Varon said.

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