Belizean police are investigating a construction company that has destroyed most of one of the largest Mayan pyramids in the Caribbean nation to make gravel to dump on village roads, according to reports from the Caribbean.
Archaeologists and a local TV station witnessed the destruction Friday as bulldozers and excavators continued to demolish the 60-foot-tall main temple at Nohmul — “great mound” — one of the tallest structures in northern Belize, along the Mexican border in the Yucatan Peninsula.
“We can’t salvage what has happened out here,” John Morris, of the Institute of Archaeology, told 7 News Belize. “It is an incredible display of ignorance. I am appalled.” A news crew was threatened by a man with a machete as dump trucks hauled away rock and limestone from the temple, which has been “whittled down to a narrow core,” the TV station said.
A Caterpillar excavator was photographed tearing down what was left of the limestone-rich ruins. “It’s like being punched in the stomach, it’s just so horrendous,” Jamie Awe, head of the institute, told the Associated Press. “These guys knew that this was an ancient structure. It’s just bloody laziness.”
The pre-Colombian site is about 2,500 years old and consists of twin ceremonial clusters surrounded by 10 plazas and connected by a raised causeway. Mayans used stone tools to quarry the rock and build the complex by hand. An estimated 40,000 people are believed to have lived there between 500 and 250 BC.
More of these incidents to come in the years ahead as population growth outweighs the need to protect resources.