Authorities in Peru say an ancient
pyramid at the oldest archaeological
site near the capital, Lima, has been
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.
According to Peru's tourism ministry, it
was a religious and administrative centre
long before the pre-Columbian Inca
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
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
"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