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Last Updated: Friday, 14 March 2008, 06:04 GMT
'Pre-Inca' temple found in Peru
Sacsayhuaman's zig-zag ruins
The temple is a mile from the zig-zagging Sacsayhuaman fortress

Archaeologists in Peru have discovered ancient temple ruins that could predate the Inca empire.

The temple on the periphery of the Sacsayhuaman fortress includes 11 rooms thought to have held mummies and idols.

The discovery at the famous spot overlooking the Incan capital of Cuzco includes ancient roadway and irrigation systems, said the team of experts.

Researchers are still waiting for carbon dating tests to verify the age of the ruins.

The find was made in the archeologically rich region of southern Peru that includes the famed Machu Picchu ruins.

Sequence

Made of stones and adobe, the temple is said to measure 2,700 sq ft (250 sq m) and includes an area in the shape of a Chacana, an Incan religious symbol.

"It's from both the Inca and pre-Inca cultures, it has a sequence," Washington Camacho, director of the Sacsayhuaman Archaeological Park, told AP news agency.

"The Incas entered and changed the form of the temple, as it initially had a more rustic architecture."

The Inca empire flourished along the western edge of South America during the 1400s, prior to the arrival of the Spanish in the next century.

The archaeologists believe the apparent irrigation system they have found was built by the Ayarmaca, who occupied the region between 900 to 1200.

Researchers said they had been lucky to find the temple, as part of it was destroyed nearly a century ago by dynamite blasts at a nearby rock quarry.

The team's excavations began last summer and are expected to continue for another five years.



SEE ALSO
In pictures: Machu Picchu relics
18 Sep 07 |  In Pictures
Peru bans flights over Inca ruins
08 Sep 06 |  Americas
Machu Picchu rescue under way
14 Oct 05 |  Americas
Country profile: Peru
18 Dec 07 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Peru
18 Dec 07 |  Country profiles

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