Reported by 7News Belize on Monday 13, 2013, it seems a construction crew has demolished an historic Mayan pyramid at the Noh Mul site located in Northern Belize. Apparently a road construction crew demolished the 2300 year old pyramid in order to utilise its large amount of limestone, which is a scarce commodity in the area.
Using backhoes and excavation equipment workers of the D-Mar road crew bulldozed the monument which sits amid a sugar cane field on privately owned land. Some have said that the pyramid was overgrown with trees and vegetation, but that there was no mistaking what it was.
What is unanimously reported across news outlets is the fact that the pyramid has been completely destroyed with no hope of preservation. The site is not a UNESCO World Heritage Site and as such enjoyed the protection of the local Institute of Archaeology alone, the President of which told 7News Belize that the “destruction is horrendous, it’s deplorable, it’s unforgivable.”
Local police have stepped in and shut down the worksite as they investigate with the potential to charge both the land owner and personnel from the construction firm with wilful destruction of an historical site. What’s troubling is that this was not the first time limestone was taken from the Noh Mul site, in 1998 another of the 81 buildings on the 12 square-mile site was destroyed for similar purposes.
And this comes on the heels of the March 14th incident earlier this year in Nazca, Peru, where a mining company destroyed a part of the historical Nazca Lines, which are a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site. At this time it’s not known whether charged were levied in that case, but it does look like officials will take action in the Noh Mul investigation.
Archaeologist and member of the Belize Institute of Archaeology Dr. Jamie Awe had this to say about the incident:
“I firmly believe it is important that we seek legal action otherwise we are sending a message that it is not important to preserve this heritage. A report that is being prepared by Dr. Morris is that the normal line of action is that this report gets sent to the Police Department in Orange Walk with a request from the Institute of Archaeology and that the police lay the ground works for charges to be made against those that are held responsible. In this case charges against the construction company for willfully [sic] destroying an ancient monument and the land owner who have had to be given permission for the company to access the property and then allow the destruction to take place.”
Public outrage for the incident has spread globally, thanks to the story being picked up by major US news outlets like CNN and Fox News and people around the globe are mourning for the loss of such important archaeological bounty. Personnel from the Institute of Archaeology will be inspecting the ruin in the hopes of salvaging specific artefacts and to study parts of the pyramid exposed due to the damage.
Unfortunately, as global economies suffer and fluctuate, poorer countries like Belize and Peru are forced to make tough decisions regarding what sites to protect and by what means. Leaving the potential for this kind of ignorance to result in the destruction of other sites; sites that, in all honesty, are the heritage of the entire human race, not just the people of their host countries.
It’s only a matter of time before we’ll see similar headlines decrying the ignorance perpetuated by the pursuit of the all-mighty dollar.