Temple of Fire

    The smoke allowed the priests to connect with their gods.”

    Marco Guillen

Huaca El Paraiso, just north of LimaThe ways of elder cultures can often be strange, with bizarre rituals and, if I remember correctly an archaeology class I barely passed once upon a time, transcendent substances. Well, that isn’t so shocking, but I remember something about tobacco so strong it could induce hallucinations; maybe I should have paid closer attention, or at least gone to class more often.

As we all know, though, there is plenty of smoke that lets you “connect with gods”.

Er … um … right.

Aerial view of Huaca El ParaisoArchaeologists working at El Paraiso, in Peru, have unearthed a structure with a footprint of over 570 square feet (≈55m2) in a wing of the main pyramid. Dubbed “The Temple of Fire”, the ruins could be as much as 5,000 years old. The BBC reports:

They had been carrying out conservation work on the site on behalf of Peru’s Ministry of Culture when they came across the remains, which had been obscured by sand and rocks.

They said the temple walls were made of stone and covered in fine yellow clay which also contained some traces of red paint.

The archaeologists said the find suggests that the communities in the Late Pre-ceramic Age (3500 BC to 1800 BC) were more closely connected than had been previously thought.

Huaca El ParaisoPeru’s Deputy Minister for Culture Rafael Varon said the the temple was the first structure of its kind to be found on Peru’s central coast.

“It corroborates that the region around Lima was a focus for the civilisations of the Andean territory, further bolstering its religious, economic and political importance since times immemorial,” Mr Varon said.

Archaeologist Marco Guillen, who led the team which made the discovery, said the hearth gave insight into the civilisation which had used the site.

“The main characteristic of their religion was the use of fire, which burnt in the centre,” he told the BBC’s Mattia Cabitza in Lima.

“The smoke allowed the priests to connect with their gods,” Mr Guillen said.