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Ancient temple ruins found under Lake Titicaca

LA PAZ, Bolivia (Reuters) -- The remains of what is thought to be a 1,000- to 1,500-year-old temple have been found below the waters of South America's lake Titicaca, according to members of a scientific expedition.

"We've found what appears to have been a 200-meter-long (660 feet), 50-meter-wide (160 feet) holy temple, a terrace for crops, a pre-Incan road and an 800-meter-long (2,600 feet) containing wall," said Lorenzo Apis, the Italian scientist leading the expedition about 90 miles (150 km) northeast of the Bolivian capital, La Paz.

The expedition "Atahuallpa 2000," backed by the international scientific group Akakor Geographical Exploring, made over 200 dives into water from 20 meters to 30 meters (65 to 100 feet) deep to record the remains on film and with photographs.

The expedition will publish the findings of its 18-day study in November and plans to eventually raise archaeological remains to the surface.

The ruins were found in an area of the lake between the town of Copacabana and the popular tourist destinations of the Island of the Sun and Island of the Moon.

The research involved 10 scientists from Italy, 10 from Brazil, five Bolivians, two Germans and a Romanian.

Lake Titicaca, some 3,800 meters (12,464 feet) above sea level, is on the border between Bolivia and Peru, and is the highest navigable lake in the world.

The Tihuanacu culture lived on its shores before they became part of the Incan empire with its base in Cusco, Peru.

"All this means our civilizations have left more footprints than we had thought," said Antonio Eguino, Bolivia's vice minister of culture, whose government pledged financial and technical support to preserve and protect the ruins.

Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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