Archaeologists in Peru have accidentally stumbled upon a centuries-old crypt with dozens of skeletons inside in the city of Cusco, whilst performing restoration work at one of the country's earliest Christian sites, the Saint Francis of Assisi Temple, according to local media.

Peruvian daily El Comercio reported that 32 skeletons were discovered inside the crypt which was used as a burial site for early Christians in the area. The temple and its crypt is thought to be more than 500 years old.

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

The state of the human remains inside the crypt are reported to be in bad condition following centuries' worth of disturbances at the site.

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

Alongside the discovery of the crypt, investigators also found a mural of the Christian nativity scene. It is believed the mural was part of the original decoration at the temple.

Cusco was once the centre for Spanish colonisation in South America and the spread of Christianity in the Andean world due to its rich mines and agriculture.