Mayan Temple Destroyed "Savagely"

The Mayan Nohmul complex was destroyed last week. 
Its stones were sold as road building material.

On May 13th, archaeologists and government officials in Belize discovered that the Nohmul complex site was destroyed.  It was one of the largest Mayan pyramids in Belize, an important ceremonial center located near the Mexican border.  Most shockingly, the temple’s rock was sold simply as road gravel.  Archaeologists are calling the incident “savage.” 

Although the temple was on private land, Belize law protects any pre-Hispanic structures.  A government investigation is currently underway and criminal changes may be brought against the construction company and land owner.  As we reported in February, Central American countries are increasingly taking measures to save pre-Hispanic sites and objects.  Countries such as Honduras are increasing mandatory prison sentences for looting and joining together to claim cultural objects, as was seen in April when Mexico, Peru, Guatemala, and Costa Rica unsuccessfully petitioned to stop a Sotheby’s Paris auction of pre-Columbian artifacts.  

Jaime Awe, head of the Belize Institute of Archeology spoke to the Associated Press on May 14th.  He stated: “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 so horrendous….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 destroy this building.  Why can’t these people just go and quarry somewhere that has no cultural significance?  It’s mind-boggling.”

Source: “Builders Bulldoze Big Mayan Pyramid in Belize,” NY Daily, May 14, 2013.

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