BELEN, N.M. — Archaeologists are searching through the remnants of the first Catholic church in a central New Mexico community and hope to find details of its history.

KQRE-TV reported the team this summer worked to uncover the remains of Nuestra Senora de Belen in Belem, N.M., which was destroyed by floods more than 100 years ago.

University of Massachusetts-Amherst anthropology professor Ventura Perez said the church was built in 1793 and scientists are trying to find the church floor. He said scientists want to protect around 5,000 burials because human remains have been coming to the surface for the last 100 years.

Scientists say it could take three to five years to complete the excavation.

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