Researchers digging at the Cerro Patapo archaeological site in northern Peru have discovered the ruins of an entire city, which may provide the "missing link" between two ancient cultures, investigators said on Tuesday.
Scientists say the find, located 14 miles from the Pacific coast city of Chiclayo, likely dates to the Wari culture, which existed in what is now Peru between about 600 AD and 1100 AD.
If initial assumptions prove correct, the discovery would connect the ancient Wari civilization to the Moche culture, which flourished from about 100 AD to 600 AD.
Researchers say the buried city includes ceramics, bits of clothing and the well-preserved remains of a young woman.
The sprawling site, which stretches over 3 miles, also shows evidence of human sacrifice, with special spots designated for the purpose and a heap of bones at the bottom of a nearby cliff.
"It provides the missing link because it explains how the Wari people allowed for the continuation of culture after the Moche," Cesar Soriano, chief archaeologist on the project, told Reuters.
He said the discovery provides the first evidence of Wari culture, which expanded from the country's south, at the northern site.
The Wari people made their capital near modern-day Ayacucho, in the Andes, but traveled widely and are known for their extensive network of roads. Earlier this year, archaeologists at the Huaca Pucllana ruins in Lima, located some 500 miles south of Chiclayo, discovered a mummy that is also thought to be Wari.
Peru is a country rich in archaeological treasures. It has hundreds of sites that date back thousands of years and span dozens of cultures, including the Incan empire that was in power when Spanish explorers arrived in the early 1500s.