One of Belize’s largest Mayan pyramids has been bulldozed by a construction company to make gravel for road fill.
The 2,300 year-old Nohmul (or Noh Mul, which translates as "great mound" in Maya) pyramid and temple platform was destroyed with backhoes and bulldozers, it was announced on Monday.
Just a small centre of the pyramid mound was left standing after contractors used the gravel and limestone content to fill roads in a nearby village.
Jaime Awe, the head of the Belize Institute of Archaeology, told the Associated Press: “It’s a feeling of incredible disbelief because of the ignorance and the insensitivity… they were using this for road fill.
“It’s like being punched in the stomach, it’s just so horrendous.”
Dr John Morris, an archaeologist with the Institute of Archaeology told Belize’s Channel 7: “This is one of the worst I have seen in my entire 25 years of Archaeology in Belize. We can’t salvage what has happened out here. It is an incredible display of ignorance.
“I am appalled and don’t know what to say at this particular moment.”
The 12 square mile Nohmul complex is located on a privately owned sugarcane plantation in the north of the country, but Belize law states any pre-Hispanic ruins are under government protection.
Police are investigating the matter and criminal charges are possible, CBS News says.
The Belize group Citizens Organized for Liberty Through Action called the destruction of the pyramid "obscene."
Group president Giovanni Brackett told Channel 5: "We see it as obscene. You can’t use no other term to better describe it. This is obscene that someone could destroy a national monument; to do something like this is appalling and you are lost for words."
The channel adds that in June 1998 "similar destructive activity" was reported by the Archaeology Department on one of the smaller plazas of the same site.
"Fortunately, the damage was not as extensive as it is tonight to the main ceremonial plaza. But the motive is the same; the material is sought for road construction due to the scarcity of quarries in the north."
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