A 2,300-year-old Mayan temple in Central America was recently razed for use as road fill, it was revealed late last week.
The construction company that demolished the temple, which was approximately 160 feet square at the base and 20 feet high, is owned by a local Belizean politician.
The temple was located 50 miles north of Belize City, near the border with Mexico, and was part of the pre-Columbian Mayan archaeological site at Noh Mul, on the eastern Yucatan Peninsula.
“This total disregard for Belize’s cultural heritage and national patrimony is callous, ignorant and unforgivable,” said Tracy Panton, Belize’s Tourism and Culture Minister. “This expressed disdain for our laws is incomprehensible.”
The archeological complex, like all pre-Columbian ruins, was under the protection of the state even though it was located in a privately owned sugar cane plantation, according to Agence France-Presse.
Noh Mul was the center of a Mayan community of 40,000 that was initially occupied between 350-250 BC. It was inhabited off and on until about 900 years ago.
Authorities learned of the incident at the end of last week, blaming the D-Mar construction company, which is owned by Denny Grijalva, a candidate for mayor of Belize City.
Grijalva, not surprisingly, has denied any knowledge of the affair.
Jaime Awe, the director of the Belize Archeological Institute, expressed “incredible disbelief” at the destruction of the pyramid, one of the largest in Belize, in an interview with a Belize television station.
“They were using this for road fill,” he said.
Experts said there was no way the construction company could not have known they were Mayan ruins, and should have been aware of the importance of the site.
“I was extremely shocked that the intangible cultural heritage of the Maya community of Belize and humanity as a whole can deliberately be destroyed,” said Greg Ch’oc, a Mayan leader.
The government in Belize City said it is pursuing a “vigorous” investigation into the incident, according to The Associated Press.
(Top: The Noh Mul Pyramid in northern Belize after being nearly completed demolished.)