More than 150 large temples, constructed between 4800 BCE and 4600 BCE, have been unearthed in fields and cities in Germany, Austria and Slovakia, predating the pyramids in Egypt by about 2000 years, the newspaper revealed on Friday. 

The network of temples, made of earth and wood, were constructed by a religious people, whose economy appears to have been based on livestock farming, The Independent reported.

New civilisation?

Excavations have taken place over the past three years, but the discovery is so new that the civilisation has not yet been named.

"Our excavations have revealed the degree of monumental vision and sophistication [of the civilisation]"

Harald Staeuble, Saxony state heritage department

The most complex centre discovered so far, beneath the city of Dresden in Saxony, eastern Germany, comprises a temple surrounded by four ditches, three earthen banks and two palisades.

"Our excavations have revealed the degree of monumental vision and sophistication used by these early farming communities to create Europe's first truly large scale earthwork complexes," said Harald Staeuble, from the Saxony state government's heritage department.

The temples, up to 150m (164 yards) in diameter, were made by a people who lived in long houses and villages, the newspaper said. Stone, bone and wooden tools have been unearthed, along with ceramic figures of people and animals.

A village at Aythra, near Leipzig in eastern Germany, was home to about 300 people living in up to 20 large buildings around the temple.