The remains of a 5,000-year-old pyramid have been bulldozed by construction companies in Lima.

The ancient temple in the El Paraiso archaeological complex in central Peru was knocked down by two building companies on Saturday, Peru This Week reports.

It cites a report by archaeologist Frederic Engel, who claims the site could have required over 100,000 tons of rock to construct and was likely to have been used for religious and ritual purposes.

el comercio lima peru ancient pyramid

Before and after pictures of the El Paraiso archaeological complex, as provided by El Comercio/ Rosario Seminar

Archaeologist Marco Guillén Hugo, who led research and excavation at the site, said it was not the first time the firms had tried to take over the land.

“They say they are the owners, even though this land is untouchable,” he told El Comercio daily newspaper.

He added the damaged caused was "irreparable".

el paraiso archaeological site in lima

A general view of the site - before the bulldozers moved in

The 50-hectare complex was first excavated in 1965 and is located in the district of San Martin de Porres.

“They are unscrupulous land traffickers,” a ministry spokesman told the Wall Street Journal.

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In February AFP reported on the discovery of a ceremonial fireplace at the site - dubbed the Temple of Fire - where shellfish, grains, flowers and fruit were burned as offerings.

Hugo told the agency: "The smoke allowed the priests to connect with the gods."

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  • PERU-ARCHAEOLOGY-DISCOVERY

    Archaeologists work at the El Paraiso archaeological site in Lima on February 14, 2013. An ancient temple believed to be about 5,000 years old was discovered at the archaeological site of El Paraiso, some 40 km northeast of Lima. If the date is confirmed, it would be among the oldest sites in the world, comparable to the ancient city of Caral, a coastal city some 200 kilometers (125 miles) to the north. AFP PHOTO/ERNESTO BENAVIDES (Photo credit should read ERNESTO BENAVIDES/AFP/Getty Images)

  • PERU-ARCHAEOLOGY-DISCOVERY

    Archaeologists work at the El Paraiso archaeological site in Lima on February 14, 2013. An ancient temple believed to be about 5,000 years old was discovered at the archaeological site of El Paraiso, some 40 km northeast of Lima. If the date is confirmed, it would be among the oldest sites in the world, comparable to the ancient city of Caral, a coastal city some 200 kilometers (125 miles) to the north. AFP PHOTO/ERNESTO BENAVIDES (Photo credit should read ERNESTO BENAVIDES/AFP/Getty Images)

  • PERU-ARCHAEOLOGY-DISCOVERY

    Archaeologists work at the El Paraiso archaeological site in Lima on February 14, 2013. An ancient temple believed to be about 5,000 years old was discovered at the archaeological site of El Paraiso, some 40 km northeast of Lima. If the date is confirmed, it would be among the oldest sites in the world, comparable to the ancient city of Caral, a coastal city some 200 kilometers (125 miles) to the north. AFP PHOTO/ERNESTO BENAVIDES (Photo credit should read ERNESTO BENAVIDES/AFP/Getty Images)

  • PERU-ARCHAEOLOGY-DISCOVERY

    Archaeologists work at the El Paraiso archaeological site in Lima on February 14, 2013. An ancient temple believed to be about 5,000 years old was discovered at the archaeological site of El Paraiso, some 40 km northeast of Lima. If the date is confirmed, it would be among the oldest sites in the world, comparable to the ancient city of Caral, a coastal city some 200 kilometers (125 miles) to the north. AFP PHOTO/ERNESTO BENAVIDES (Photo credit should read ERNESTO BENAVIDES/AFP/Getty Images)

  • PERU-ARCHAEOLOGY-FILE

    (FILE) Picture taken on February 14, 2013 of a general view of El Paraiso archaeological site in Lima. An ancient temple believed to be about 5,000 years old was discovered at the archaeological site of El Paraiso, some 40 km northeast of Lima. According to a ministerial statement on July 2, 2013, an unidentified group destroyed 'from its base, a pyramid that was 2,500 square meters and six meters high, known as Sector 12'. AFP PHOTO/ERNESTO BENAVIDES (Photo credit should read ERNESTO BENAVIDES/AFP/Getty Images)

  • PERU-ARCHAEOLOGY-DISCOVERY

    Archaeologists work at the El Paraiso archaeological site in Lima on February 14, 2013. An ancient temple believed to be about 5,000 years old was discovered at the archaeological site of El Paraiso, some 40 km northeast of Lima. If the date is confirmed, it would be among the oldest sites in the world, comparable to the ancient city of Caral, a coastal city some 200 kilometers (125 miles) to the north. AFP PHOTO/ERNESTO BENAVIDES (Photo credit should read ERNESTO BENAVIDES/AFP/Getty Images)

  • PERU-ARCHAEOLOGY-DISCOVERY

    A general view of El Paraiso archaeological site in Lima on February 14, 2013. An ancient temple believed to be about 5,000 years old was discovered at the archaeological site of El Paraiso, some 40 km northeast of Lima. If the date is confirmed, it would be among the oldest sites in the world, comparable to the ancient city of Caral, a coastal city some 200 kilometers (125 miles) to the north. AFP PHOTO/ERNESTO BENAVIDES (Photo credit should read ERNESTO BENAVIDES/AFP/Getty Images)

  • PERU-ARCHAEOLOGY-DISCOVERY

    Archaeologists work at the El Paraiso archaeological site in Lima on February 14, 2013. An ancient temple believed to be about 5,000 years old was discovered at the archaeological site of El Paraiso, some 40 km northeast of Lima. If the date is confirmed, it would be among the oldest sites in the world, comparable to the ancient city of Caral, a coastal city some 200 kilometers (125 miles) to the north. AFP PHOTO/ERNESTO BENAVIDES (Photo credit should read ERNESTO BENAVIDES/AFP/Getty Images)