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5,000-year-old ceremonial temple discovered beneath sand dune in Peru

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Archaeologists have unearthed the ruins of a 5,000-year-old ceremonial temple and human skeletal remains beneath a sand dune in Peru.

The temple site, which is located in the Zaña (also spelled Saña) district of northwestern Peru, is part of the Los Paredones de la Otra Banda-Las Ánimas Archaeological Complex, according to a translated statement from the Peruvian Ministry of Culture.

After excavations began on June 3, the researchers discovered what was left of the walls of a multistory temple. Wedged between the walls were the skeletons of three adults.

The burials, which contain offerings wrapped in cloth, offer evidence that this could have been the site of a sacrificial ritual, Channel News Asia reported.

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"We are probably looking at a 5,000-year-old religious complex that is in an archaeological space defined by walls built of mud," Luis Armando Muro Ynoñán, director of the Archaeological Project of Cultural Landscapes of Úcupe - Zaña Valley, said in the statement. "We have what would have been a central staircase from which one would ascend to a kind of stage in the central part."

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The walls were decorated with intricate friezes depicting images of the human body with a bird's head, feline features and reptilian claws. The upper portions of the walls were coated in a "fine plaster with a pictorial design," according to the statement. 

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