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Archaeologists in Peru unearth church crypt containing dozens of skeletons

CUZCO, PERU - JUNE 2007: Images of the festivities leading up to the Inti Raymi festival in Cuzco, Peru, 21 June 2007. The Inti Raymi festival is the most spectacular Andean festival with over 500 actors re-enacting the the ceremony of adoration of the Sun God, personified by the Inca. Thousands of people fill the great square of the fortress of Sacsayhuaman to re-enact the ceremony. The festival brings together all the different Andean communities and provides an opportunity for these communities to come together. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images.)

CUZCO, PERU - JUNE 2007: Images of the festivities leading up to the Inti Raymi festival in Cuzco, Peru, 21 June 2007. The Inti Raymi festival is the most spectacular Andean festival with over 500 actors re-enacting the the ceremony of adoration of the Sun God, personified by the Inca. Thousands of people fill the great square of the fortress of Sacsayhuaman to re-enact the ceremony. The festival brings together all the different Andean communities and provides an opportunity for these communities to come together. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images.)  (2010 Getty Images)

Archeologists doing restoration work at one of Peru's earliest Christian sites stumbled upon a centuries-old crypt with dozens of skeletons.

Thirty-two skeletons were discovered inside the newly found crypt, located under the St. Francis of Assisi Church in the Andean city of Cusco. The temple was used as a burial site for early Christians in the area as the church dates back over 500 years.

"We made a discovery in front of the Temple of Saint Francis of Assisi that dates back to 1556," said archaeologist, Carlos Galimberti, according to the International Herald Tribune.

The scientists reported that the skeletons were in terrible condition due to years of disturbances at the site.

"On the surface of the crypt, we have found a total of 32 distinct remains that were in a bad state as a result of the regular desecrations to the remains over the years," archaeologist Elizabeth Aragon told Reuters.

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Along with the skeletons the archaeologists found a mural of the Christian nativity scene that is believed to be part of the original decoration at the temple.

Cusco, once the capital of the Inca Empire, was one of Spain's first centers of colonization in the Americas and for years was key to the empire's – and Christianity's – growth in the region.

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