Monday, May 13, 2013

Mayan Pyramid Destroyed

An ancient Mayan pyramid has been destroyed--to be used as filler for road construction.

One of the largest pyramids in Belize, near the Mexican border, has been bulldozed by a road construction crew.  The workers used backhoes and bulldozers to crush the stone from the pyramid so that they could use it to fill in a road.

Known as the Nohmul complex, the ceremonial pyramid was dated to about 2,300 years old.  It was considered the most important ancient site in Northern Belize.  The structure sat in the middle of a sugar can field.  While the pyramid lacked the typical stone sides that mark many pyramids, it was about one hundred feet tall and was well known in the region as a sacred site and ceremonial centre.

Jaime Awe, head of the Belize Institute of Archaeology said that they damage was discovered last week;

"It's a feeling of incredible disbelief because of the ignorance and the insensitivity...they were using this for road fill.  It's like being punched in the stomach, it's just so horrendous."

Pre-Hispanic ruins are under government protection in Belize wether they sit on private or public land.  Police are conducting an investigation of the incident and criminal charges may be filed. 

Awe believes the incident was a result of lazy workers who didn't want to quarry for the needed rock.

"To think that today we have modern equipment, that you can go and excavate in a quarry anywhere, but that this company would completely disregard that and completely destroyed this building.  Why can't these people just go and quarry somewhere that has no cultural significance?  It's mind boggling."

Belize has hundreds of Mayan ruins, many of them covered by jungle.  Sadly, this is not the first time such destruction of an ancient site has taken place in Belize and other countries in the region.

According to Professor Francisco Estrada-Beli of Tulane University;

"I don't think I'm exaggerating if I say that every day a Maya mound is being destroyed for construction in one of the countries were the Maya lived.  Unfortunately, this destruction of our heritage is irreversible but many don't take it seriously.  The only way to stop it is by showing that it is a major crime and people can and will go to jail for it."

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