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Work Crew Destroys Ancient Pyramid

Thursday, May 16, 2013

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One of the oldest Mayan pyramids has been destroyed by construction crews digging for crushed rock to build a road in Belize.

Authorities said that a construction company was using bulldozers and backhoes to chip away at the Nohmul complex pyramid's sides until barely anything was left. Only a portion of the pyramid's core was reportedly left standing.

Jaime Awe, the head of the Belize Institute of Archaeology, said the Nohmul sat in the middle of a privately owned sugar cane field, and the builders could not have possibly mistaken the 100-foot-tall pyramid mound for a natural hill because the location is a flat area.

Nohmul complex

Once standing 100 feet tall, the Nohmul pyramid has been almost completely destroyed by a construction crew seeking material for road construction.

Although the pyramid was on private land, Belizean law puts any pre-Hispanic ruins under government protection. The ceremonial center dates back at least 2,300 years.

Nohmul, which means "Great Mound," is on a low limestone ridge that lies among sugarcane fields. It was most likely first occupied in the Middle Pre-Classic Period, according to Belize's National Institute of Culture and History.

'Bloody Laziness'

"These guys knew that this was an ancient structure. It's just bloody laziness," Awe said, according to the Huffington Post.

Awe said the destruction was discovered last week. Belizean police said they are conducting an investigation and criminal charges are possible.

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

The Institute of Archaeology is preparing a report for police.

According to an archaeologist, bulldozing ancient Mayan pyramids for road fill is not an uncommon problem in Belize and several other structures have been destroyed.

"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," Awe said, according to International Business Times.

"In this case charges against the construction company for willfully 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," said Awe.

However, this isn't the first time something like this has happened in Belize, according to Norman Hammond, an emeritus professor of archaeology at Boston University.

Hammond, who worked in Belizean research projects in the 1980s, wrote in an email to the Huffington Post that "bulldozing Maya mounds for road fill is an endemic problem in Belize (the whole of the San Estevan center has gone, both of the major pyramids at Louisville, other structures at Nohmul, many smaller sites), but this sounds like the biggest yet."


Tagged categories: Construction; Government; Historic Structures; Roads/Highways

Comment from shane hirvi, (5/16/2013, 8:36 AM)


Comment from Douglas Howard, (5/16/2013, 11:37 PM)

It happens everyday in the U.S. You have to save it first for it to become 2,300 years old.

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