Mayan Pyramid Crushed—for Gravel

Belizean road crew wrecks ancient temple

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted May 14, 2013 1:13 AM CDT | Updated May 18, 2013 1:15 PM CDT

(Newser) – Archeologists have been horrified to discover that one of the largest Mayan pyramids in Belize has been almost completely annihilated by road crews looking for an easy source of gravel. The 2,300-year-old temple at the heart of the Nohmul complex—at 60 feet, one of the country's tallest structures—was ripped down with bulldozers and backhoes by a crew that threatened reporters with machetes, USA Today reports.

"We can't salvage what has happened out here—it's an incredible display of ignorance," a government archeologist tells 7NewsBelize. Using the ancient structure as roadfill represents an "incredible inversion of value, that what the Maya built with stone tools and manual labour ages ago is being demolished with heavy equipment, because these contractors are too lazy to find a proper quarry," another archeologist says. The complex sits on private land, but Belizean law protects all pre-Hispanic ruins and criminal charges may be filed.

The damaged sloping sides of the Nohmul complex, one of Belize's largest Mayan pyramids, are visible in this image released by Jaime Awe, head of the Belize Institute of Archaeology.
The damaged sloping sides of the Nohmul complex, one of Belize's largest Mayan pyramids, are visible in this image released by Jaime Awe, head of the Belize Institute of Archaeology.   (AP Photo/Jaime Awe)
In this image released by Jaime Awe, head of the Belize Institute of Archaeology, a backhoe claws away at the sloping sides of the Nohmul complex, one of Belize's largest Mayan pyramids.
In this image released by Jaime Awe, head of the Belize Institute of Archaeology, a backhoe claws away at the sloping sides of the Nohmul complex, one of Belize's largest Mayan pyramids.   (AP Photo/Jaime Awe)
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