Indian archaeologists have discovered the ruins of an ancient Hindu temple that may have been destroyed centuries ago by a tsunami, an official said Wednesday.
The temple appears to have been built between second century B.C. and first century A.D and was excavated this month just north of Mahabalipuram, a port town in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, by a team from the government Archaeological Survey of India, said the group's chief, Thyagarajan Satyamurthy.
"This is the earliest temple discovered in this region so far," Satyamurthy added.
The archaeologists are trying to determine the date of the tsunami from sand and sea shells found at the brick temple, dedicated to Lord Muruga, a Hindu god, Satyamurthy told The Associated Press.
He said there was more damage on the side of the temple facing the sea and the sand and shell deposits at the structure were not normally found so far inland.
Geophysicists at a government laboratory in southern Trivandrum city called them "palaeo-tsunami" deposits, he said.
The temple was found one layer below a granite temple excavated by the same team in July, leading archaeologists to theorize that the Pallava kings, who ruled the region between 580 A.D and 728 A.D., built the latter temple atop the remains of the older one, reports the AP.