Ancient Mayan pyramid destroyed by construction company in Belize (PHOTOS)

One of the oldest and most famous Mayan pyramids has been destroyed by a construction company in Belize, while digging for crushed rock for a road they were building.

The authorities reported on Monday that the company was using bulldozers and backhoes to carry out the works, chipping away at the pyramid’s sides until barely anything was left. Jaime Awe, the head of the Belize Institute of Archaeology, said the construction had been detected the previous week.

The ceremonial center at what is known as the Nohmul complex is estimated to be at least 2,300 years old and is considered to be the most important historical site in northern Belize, on the border with Mexico.

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

Nohmul is located in the middle of a privately owned sugar cane field and its structures lacked the tell-tale signs of a restored cultural site – like the evenly trimmed stone borders at the sides. Yet, Awe said this could not possibly have been an explanation for how the workers had managed not to take note of what they were doing. The pyramid is 100 feet (30 meters) tall, while the land around it is flat, so making that kind of mistake is difficult to imagine.

"These guys knew that this was an ancient structure. It's just bloody laziness", Awe continued. "Just to realize that the ancient Maya acquired all this building material to erect these buildings, using nothing more than stone tools and quarried the stone, and carried this material on their heads, using tump lines," he said. "To think that today we have modern equipment, that you can go and excavate in a quarry anywhere, but that this company would completely disregard that and completely destroyed this building. Why can't these people just go and quarry somewhere that has no cultural significance? It's mind-boggling."

An investigation is underway by Belizean police, with criminal charges looking like a possibility. Although the Nohmul complex is situated on private land, the law says that any ruins or monuments of pre-Hispanic origin are exempt from it and are under government protection.

A community organization calling itself the Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action has condemned the demolition of the site as "an obscene example of disrespect for the environment and history."

Hundreds of Mayan ruins remain in Belize, which is largely covered with jungles and counts around 350,000 people among its population. Although this is not the first case that such lack of regard was employed in Belize, Nohmul is among the largest pyramids ruined by such activities.

Many scientists spoke out against what happened. Arlen Chase, chairman of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Central Florida, told AP that "Archaeologists are disturbed when such things occur, but there is only a very limited infrastructure in Belize that can be applied to cultural heritage management."

The 70’s and 80’s saw much exploration take place around the Nohmul area, but it is important to understand that more knowledge could still be gained, as scientists say. And such instances of lazy negligence and destruction of Mayan cultural heritage aren’t limited only to Belize. The remnants of the great Mayan nation are under threat in Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras as well.

Francisco Estrada-Belli, a professor of anthropology at Tulane University, said "I don't think I am exaggerating if I say that every day a Maya mound is being destroyed for construction in one of the countries where the Maya lived."

Video Footage 4 months ago before destruction

Responses to "Builders bulldoze one of largest Mayan pyramids in Belize"

  1. Anonymous says:

    The monsters, nothing can fix that, make them pay everything they own and then jail them for life.

  2. Anonymous says:

    UNBELIEVABLE!!! Incredibly heart-breaking. I cannot believe the Belizian government is allowing this to happen. Shocking, horrible act.

  3. Isa says:

    shocking stupid ignorant beyond all comprehension. god save us.

  4. Isa says:

    i don't believe in capital punishment but in a situation like this, it's hard to imagine they're human to begin with. i wouldn't let mere squeamishless stand in the way of they're getting what they deserve. words can't convey how i feel right now.

  5. Anonymous says:

    they should be attacked and scared away

  6. Anonymous says:

    they should be attacked and scared away

  7. Men are parasites to the world in which they live...

  8. WHat company was this?

  9. Anonymous says:

    Such disrespect to the Ancestors... Karma will have her say in the end. Until then man's law should extract every possible piece of justice against them. May their descendants pay as well! --Jordan Roscoe McCoy

  10. Anonymous says:

    that is not video footage of Nohmul pyramid

  11. Anonymous says:

    I visited some Mayan pyramids in Mexico, and reading what has happened in Belize it's a punch in the stomach, horrendous!! Please name and shame the company who did this and make them pay and make all companies sign contracts where they promise not to destroy human heritage!!

  12. Anonymous says:

    This is awful. I do not condone this at all but when the government of Belize will accept bribes from companies such as Walmart (yes this is true - NPR did a big story on this recently) so they can build their stores in what is supposed to be protected land, I understand how this can happen. Very sad. Yes, I avoid shopping at Walmart.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I feel sad when I see this...

  14. Anonymous says:

    My husband and I spend recently spent 2 and a half months in Belize. We were fortunate to visit many Mayan Sites while there. I don't care what faith, if any, you are it is truly a religious experience being there. Words can not describe the way I'm feeling about this, but shock, horror, and outrage begin to scratch the surface. There is no punishment harsh enough for the individuals involved, and sadly no punishment that can restore this magnificent structure. Belize does not have the resources to properly excavate,preserve, and protect it's historic gems which begs the question....what to do to prevent another catastrophic event such as this one?!?!? ~ Celena McKenna

  15. Anonymous says:

    Icant believe it!!!!!!! Its heart breaking! Another example of Mans ignorance and greed!!!! When is man going to stop destroying things! Katrina Vella

  16. Anonymous says:

    I'm thinking of words to describe these people. Stupid? Lazy? Incompetent? Ignorant? Dumb? Careless?

  17. Anonymous says:

    Mayan pyramid in the middle of a sugar cane field on private land was destroyed for road fill. Private land ownership and progress of the modern world is like a cancer on the land and sugar feeds cancer in humans!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Did any of you notice that the pictures do not match at all the background shown in the video? You can see that the vegetation in the photos is entirely different than the jungle surrounding the pyramid in the video.

  19. Unknown says:

    so heart breaking ,no respect for heritage and history

  20. Cocobean says:

    Of course the responder above is a total a moron to make such a statement, ad makes it as anonymous. I'm not afraid to say who I am with my thoughts. Funny how haters like the on above only knows how to relate through hate. Guess all you can do is pray that somebody sends him so love since he doesn't know how the meaning of empathy or respect. A poor empty hating and cowardly soul with nothing but negative energy, a psychic vampire seeking to generate more negative so he/she can laugh about it. Talk about evil. All you can do is pray that somehow love comes into their life.

  21. Cocobean says:

    btw- I'm referring to the "who cares guy"

  22. Anonymous says:

    Dreadful, dreadful, dreadful

  23. Unknown says:

    Possible criminal charges?? Seriously??? When will it ever stop??? Our ancestry is continuously dehumanised. If I went to Belgium and started destroying their monuments I'd be sentenced to life.

  24. Anonymous says:

    The problem I'm having is that the author saw fit to put up a video of a Lamanai pyramid -- a very popular tourist site which has _not_ been destroyed -- to suggest that this is the site that was bulldozed. It's completely dishonest and wildly inappropriate.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Hijos de puta como pudieron hacer eso.????? Es historia. Pinche gobiernos de mierda

  26. Anonymous says:

    Lock them up and throw the key away. They have caused irreparable damage.

  27. Anonymous says:

    This is absolutely without a doubt, sick. These people and company needs to be out of business and run out of the country. This is the craziest I've seen of late. They should be thoroughly ashamed and SHAMED!!!

  28. Anonymous says:

    I'm disgusted with mankind!

  29. Not only shameful, but they are enemy of the civilization and culture- in fact of the humanity-Anek

  30. Anonymous says:

    wow this makes me sick to think someone could just destroy such awesome history , i hope they get he book thrown at them for destroying this .

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