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Archaeologists in Bolivia find 1,500-year-old treasures

Director of Bolivia's Office for Coca Leaf and Industrialization (Digcoin) Luis Cutipa speaks to a journalist before beginning his detention at the Special Force against Crime (FELCC) building in La Paz Oct 7, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Director of Bolivia's Office for Coca Leaf and Industrialization (Digcoin) Luis Cutipa speaks to a journalist before beginning his detention at the Special Force against Crime (FELCC) building in La Paz Oct 7, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Bolivia's President Evo Morales speaks during the presentation of "Titicaca Project" in La Paz, Oct 8, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 
Bolivia's President Evo Morales speaks during the presentation of "Titicaca Project" in La Paz, Oct 8, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 
Bolivia's President Evo Morales (left) talks with Christophe Delaere during the presentation of "Titicaca Project" in La Paz, Oct 8, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Bolivia's President Evo Morales (left) talks with Christophe Delaere during the presentation of "Titicaca Project" in La Paz, Oct 8, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
A man looks at the archaeological artefacts found during an underwater exploration at the Titicaca lake are displayed during the "Titicaca Project" exhibition in La Paz Oct 8, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 
A man looks at the archaeological artefacts found during an underwater exploration at the Titicaca lake are displayed during the "Titicaca Project" exhibition in La Paz Oct 8, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 
Clay archaeological artefacts depicting puma heads found during an underwater exploration at the Titicaca lake are displayed during the "Titicaca Project" exhibition in La Paz Oct 8, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 
Clay archaeological artefacts depicting puma heads found during an underwater exploration at the Titicaca lake are displayed during the "Titicaca Project" exhibition in La Paz Oct 8, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 
Belgium professor Christophe Delaere looks on during the presentation of "Titicaca Project" in La Paz, Oct 8, 2013.  -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Belgium professor Christophe Delaere looks on during the presentation of "Titicaca Project" in La Paz, Oct 8, 2013.  -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Part of a discovery of pieces of gold, silver, bone and ceramics dated 1,500 years ago found on the Bolivian banks of the Titicaca lake by a group of Belgian archaeologists, in La Paz, on Oct 8, 2013.  -- PHOTO: AFP 
Part of a discovery of pieces of gold, silver, bone and ceramics dated 1,500 years ago found on the Bolivian banks of the Titicaca lake by a group of Belgian archaeologists, in La Paz, on Oct 8, 2013.  -- PHOTO: AFP 
Part of a discovery of pieces of gold, silver, bone and ceramics dated 1,500 years ago found on the Bolivian banks of the Titicaca lake by a group of Belgian archaeologists, in La Paz, on Oct 8, 2013.  -- PHOTO: AFP 
Part of a discovery of pieces of gold, silver, bone and ceramics dated 1,500 years ago found on the Bolivian banks of the Titicaca lake by a group of Belgian archaeologists, in La Paz, on Oct 8, 2013.  -- PHOTO: AFP 
Part of a discovery of pieces of gold, silver, bone and ceramics dated 1,500 years ago found on the Bolivian banks of the Titicaca lake by a group of Belgian archaeologists, in La Paz, on Oct 8, 2013.  -- PHOTO: AFP
Part of a discovery of pieces of gold, silver, bone and ceramics dated 1,500 years ago found on the Bolivian banks of the Titicaca lake by a group of Belgian archaeologists, in La Paz, on Oct 8, 2013.  -- PHOTO: AFP
Part of a discovery of pieces of gold, silver, bone and ceramics dated 1,500 years ago found on the Bolivian banks of the Titicaca lake by a group of Belgian archaeologists, in La Paz, on Oct 8, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Part of a discovery of pieces of gold, silver, bone and ceramics dated 1,500 years ago found on the Bolivian banks of the Titicaca lake by a group of Belgian archaeologists, in La Paz, on Oct 8, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Part of a discovery of pieces of gold, silver, bone and ceramics dated 1,500 years ago found on the Bolivian banks of the Titicaca lake by a group of Belgian archaeologists, in La Paz, on October 8, 2013. Gold and silver pieces as well as bones
Part of a discovery of pieces of gold, silver, bone and ceramics dated 1,500 years ago found on the Bolivian banks of the Titicaca lake by a group of Belgian archaeologists, in La Paz, on October 8, 2013. Gold and silver pieces as well as bones and pottery from 1,500 years ago were discovered in Lake Titicaca by underwater archaeologists, a researcher said Tuesday. -- PHOTO: AFP 

LA PAZ (AFP) - Gold and silver pieces as well as bones and pottery from 1,500 years ago were discovered in Lake Titicaca by underwater archaeologists, a researcher said Tuesday.

"We found 2,000 objects and fragments," Mr Christophe Delaere, the Belgian co-director of the Huinaimarca Project that unearthed the items, said at a ceremony in La Paz.

President Evo Morales, Bolivia's minister of culture and diplomats from Belgium were also in attendance.

The expedition began two months ago on the Bolivian side of the lake, which is shared with Peru. Underwater explorations turned up objects from different eras, both Inca era and pre-Inca (1438-1533).

The project unearthed 31 gold fragments, mainly around the Isla del Sol, where legend holds that mythical founders of the Incan empire emerged from the lake's waters.

Underwater excavations were carried out in other parts of the lake where objects from different dates were found.

"There are ceramics and urns from more than 500 to 800 years ago," Mr Delaere said.

Elsewhere, 1,500-year-old objects such as stone vessels, incense containers and figures of animals like pumas were found.

Tales about the lake containing underwater citadels and wealth supposedly stashed by indigenous Quechua and Aymara people from Spanish conquistadores have existed for centuries in Bolivia.

In the late 1960s French explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau conducted several expeditions in Lake Titicaca, finding signs of a civilisation.

Mr Morales stressed that Bolivia, South America's poorest nation, is keen to recover its national patrimony on display in countries in Europe and the United States.