Developers destroy ancient Peru pyramid

Handout picture released by the Peruvian Ministry of Culture on 2 July 2013 showing the area of the El Paraiso complex where a pyramid was destroyed A picture released by the culture ministry showed the area cleared by heavy machinery

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Authorities in Peru say an ancient pyramid at the oldest archaeological site near the capital, Lima, has been destroyed.

They are pressing criminal charges against two real-estate companies blamed for tearing down the structure, which was 6m (20-ft) high.

An archaeologist said those responsible had committed "irreparable damage".

The building was one of 12 pyramids found at the El Paraiso complex and is thought to be at least 4,000 years old.

The site, which dates back to the Late Preceramic (3500-1800 BC) period, is situated several kilometres north of Lima.

Start Quote

We are not going to be able to know in what ways it was constructed, what materials were used in it and how the society in that part of the pyramid behaved”

End Quote Marco Guilen Director of excavation project, El Paraiso

According to Peru's tourism ministry, it was a religious and administrative centre long before the pre-Columbian Inca civilisation.

Rafael Varon, deputy minister of cultural patrimony, said the destruction had taken place over the weekend. He said company workers using heavy machinery had attempted to destroy three further pyramids, but had been stopped by onlookers.

Mr Varon said criminal complaints had been lodged against two companies.

Marco Guilen, director of an excavation project at El Paraiso, told Associated Press news agency the people who tore down the pyramid "have committed irreparable damage to a page of Peruvian history".

"We are not going to be able to know in what ways it was constructed, what materials were used in it and how the society in that part of the pyramid behaved."

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