Washington, Feb 21 : Construction crews working in the province of Piura, on the coast of Peru, have discovered a mysterious pyramid complex, marking what could be a vast ceremonial site of an ancient, little-known culture.
According to a report in National Geographic News, the complex, which houses the remnants of at least ten pyramids, is 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) long and 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) wide.
"We found several partial pyramids, at least ten," said Csar Santos S nchez, chief archaeologist for Peru's National Institute of Culture (INC) - Piura division.
Officials from INC have said that the complex belonged to the ancient Vic£s culture and was likely either a religious center or a cemetery for nobility.
The Vic£s was a pre-Hispanic civilization that flourished in Peru's northern coastal desert from 200 B.C to 300 A.D. and is known for its decorated ceramics.
Experts say little is known about the culture, because its sites have been heavily looted over the years.
"We also found a large adobe platform that we speculate could have been used for burial rituals. But we cannot know without further testing," said Santos.
The platform, measuring 82 feet (25 meters) by 98 feet (30 meters), was found alongside one of the larger pyramids in the complex.
Another of the larger pyramids contained some artifacts as well as bone fragments from a human skull.
According to the report, the fact that the skull fragments were found several meters below the surface, indicating a deep grave that took much time to dig, prompted researchers to theorize that the individual buried there had high social status.
The researchers added that the complex is surrounded by four large hills: Pil n, Vic£s, Chanchape, and Tongo.
"We think that because of its geographic location the complex could have been a place of strategic value," said Santos.
According to experts, the Vic£s ceramic style is similar in some respects to that of the Moche, a fact that has spawned research on the relationship between the two cultures.
The Moche civilization flourished in areas south of the Vic£s from around A.D. 100 to 750, producing intricately painted pottery as well as gold ornaments, irrigation systems, and monuments.
The two cultures thrived within a relatively short distance of each other.
"It is possible that the Vic£s for part of its history was closely affiliated with the Moche culture," said Joanne Pillsbury, an archaeologist at the Washington D.C.-based Dumbarton Oaks.