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Mayan Pyramid In Belize Leveled By Construction Crew 276

Posted by timothy
from the nohmul-is-no-more dept.
An anonymous reader writes "If an imposing 2300-year old Mayan temple situated at the Nohmul complex in northern Belize was on your list of things to see before you die, you're too late. The monument was essentially destroyed by a construction crew in order to provide gravel for road construction. Archaeologists expressed shock, as Nohmul (the "great mound") was a major Mayan religious center in its day. While the pyramid was situated on private property, such historical sites are supposedly protected by ordinance, and officials may file criminal charges."
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Mayan Pyramid In Belize Leveled By Construction Crew

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  • Out with the old (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    In with the new.

    Humanity needs to stop hording and learn to let things go.

    • by gmuslera (3436)
      That deserved to be the 1st paragraph of "Farenheit 451". Where you draw the line? Should we rewrite history to justify what is "popular" with our current culture/government/corporations/religions?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @08:15AM (#43718995)

    ...they want their pyramid back.

  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @08:18AM (#43719015)

    The mayan date was right but the work crew fell behind

  • by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @08:19AM (#43719029) Homepage Journal

    It's not like they planned on using it after 2012.

  • Just make it cheaper, no matter how.... if somebody find a way to make good business nuking the moon, they will go ahead....romantic people can still watch Breakfast at Tiffany's... Tides? Who needs tides? Fishes? who cares? I will have my new Ferrari to drive, a longer yatch and a luxurious flat in Aspen....
  • by unimacs (597299) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @08:40AM (#43719181)
    I was just in Belize a few weeks ago and while the destruction of any Mayan ruins is tragic, I don't think Nohmul was quite what it's being made out to be. The few pictures I could find of the actual Nohmul temple are much different than the picture in the linked article. I remember no mention of it when trying to select ruins to go see. It doesn't seem like it was a big tourist draw.

    I was at Laminai and that is a truly impressive set of structures. There are lots of unexcavated buildings still there and the remarkable thing is that the look just like hills. Though it's a stretch, it's not outside the realm of possibility that workers at Noh mul were unaware of the significance of what looked like a pile of rocks until they started working. The landowner surely would have known.
    • by T.E.D. (34228) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @08:53AM (#43719291)
      Here, I found of recent picture of Nohmul [dualmfg.com] for you.
    • by rtb61 (674572) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @01:14PM (#43722577) Homepage

      Bullshit. They excavated the material for road fill, they knew exactly what it was and the quality of the material they would obtain and how much money they would save paying for quarried material trucked to the site. You do not just use any passing dirt for road fill because it will be impossible to compact properly and could be subject to extreme bulking when exposed to water, you do not randomly excavate hills because you do not know what they constitute and how difficult they will be to excavate.

      You win the prize for civil construction ignorance as do those who thought your ignorance was informative. Even ancient Romans knew better than you http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_roads [wikipedia.org] please check diagram at bottom of article.

      The greedy shit head owner of the company knew exactly what they were doing and how much they would save.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @08:50AM (#43719263) Journal

    Officials are calling for calm amid reports that feathered serpent attacks are up 39% from historical baselines...

    • by T.E.D. (34228)

      Actually, the feathered serpent is generally the good guy. Smoking Mirror [wikipedia.org] (a jaguar) is the one to watch out for.

      But don't worry; its not the end of the worl...um...well..actually...

      • Actually, the feathered serpent is generally the good guy.

        Right, and the good guy would be the one attacking the shortsighted, uncultured heathens who desecrated the pyramid. It makes sense to me...

        If we were to ask the person responsible, maybe he'd say "Smoking Mirror made me do it!"

  • by kpoole55 (1102793) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @08:54AM (#43719303)

    Okay, the pyramid was on privately owned land. Time to check and see what the land owner wanted to do with the land that the pyramid was getting in the way of. Or, perhaps he was just concerned that all these tourists were coming to this pyramid and he wasn't getting anything out of it. And the insurance liability, Suppose someone were climbing around on this thing and fell, even if they were illegal trespassers would he be responsible? There are a number of very good legal reasons why he's want to have this hazard removed. On top of that, I understand the price of gravel is very high these days.

    As much as I hate the idea of expropriating land from private owners, if you want to really preserve these sorts of things you've got to remove them from private ownership and recompense the land owner either with money or a swap of some new land of equal value. As long as these sorts of things are in private ownership, this will continue.

    • My bet is that the government purchased the rock for their road projects. Look to India, you will find vast numbers of people that are enslaved by the government to crush rock for their roads (paid about $25/month for a family to fill a truck with sand/gravel). There won't be charges, because it will lead back to themselves.
    • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @09:18AM (#43719579) Homepage Journal

      As much as I hate the idea of expropriating land from private owners, if you want to really preserve these sorts of things you've got to remove them from private ownership and recompense the land owner either with money or a swap of some new land of equal value.

      Or just accept that land ownership comes with certain restrictions. For example, if I want an addition to my house, I can't just build whatever I want; I need to get permits and ensure that the construction complies with building codes. Saying "no, you cannot knock down this ancient structure which was built millennia ago on what now happens to be your land" strikes me as a reasonable counterpart to that.

      • by ArsonSmith (13997)

        except that falls flat when people have homes that have been regulated to this status where they can't modernize them. Often times they'll be rotting out from under them but due to ordnance they can't fix it.

        • Nobody's proposing that the restrictions on property ownership be stupid, just that there be some restrictions to prevent the loss of major archeological treasures.
          • by kpoole55 (1102793)

            According to the article such laws are already in place but it didn't stop this from happening. It was on private land and the landowner for want of cash sold the gravel or for want of another use of the land had it cleared.

            It's going to be very interesting to follow as everyone points to someone else and says I just did what he told me to do.

    • by unimacs (597299)
      The problem with that solution is that Belize is not a wealthy country and the government is not in a position to buy up all the land that contains Mayan ruins. There are thousands of un-excavated buildings located all over the country.
      • by kpoole55 (1102793)

        The alternative to a money compensation was mentioned as a swap for land of equal value. Since someone is going to make an issue of that then swap them for some land in the city where smaller parcels are valued higher and, hopefully, all the excavation for relics has already been done.

    • As much as I hate the idea of expropriating land from private owners, if you want to really preserve these sorts of things you've got to remove them from private ownership and recompense the land owner either with money or a swap of some new land of equal value. As long as these sorts of things are in private ownership, this will continue.

      You mean, as long as we embrace the notion of private property so that we may enable rent-seeking, this will continue. No one should have the right to simply bulldoze the past.

    • by lytlebill (659903)
      Sounds like the land owner didn't really have any say in it. Of course, I've no idea what the state of law enforcement is like in Belize, entirely possible that a big enough bribe would do the trick. From TFA: "The Noh Mul complex sits on private land, but Belizean law states any pre-Hispanic ruins are under government protection."
  • "Mayan" is a noun (Score:3, Informative)

    by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @09:03AM (#43719419)

    "Mayan" is the name of the language. The adjective is "Maya," as in Maya temple or Maya people.

  • by DriveDog (822962) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @09:09AM (#43719461)
    The destruction was intentional by some authorities still looking for McAfee. Now they'll charge him with the human sacrifices that occurred two millenia ago.
  • by afeeney (719690) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @09:09AM (#43719467)
    This kind of destruction for the pettiest of reasons isn't anything new. In Malta, a group took a bulldozer to the stone temples at Mnajdra [sacred-destinations.com], a glorious megalithic site, older than Stonehenge and the Pyramids. Mnajdra is breathtakingly lovely and enigmatic and fascinating. Fortunately, it's largely been restored and is again open to the public. Why? People had constructed illegal bird-hunting hides on the adjacent land and objected to their hides being destroyed. [maltatoday.com.mt] People will be vicious destructive assholes for any number of reasons, including just because they can. Profit, sheer revelry in destruction (Persepolis), symbolism of dominance or victory (Summer Palace in Beijing), religious fanaticism (Buddha statues), a fanatical dislike of cities (Mongols and most of the cities in their way), to discourage attacks (Carthage), any number of reasons.
  • A friend shared this story [thetibetpost.com] recently.

    The new global zeitgeist of sans souci. "Ah, well. It doesn't affect me. Let's have another Coke", and don't forget to toss the empty cup out the window.

  • by zedrdave (1978512) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @09:16AM (#43719541)
    So tell me again, why is the first link for that story a bulshitty post on a New Zealand rightwing blog, with a blatantly misidentified picture? (this [7newsbelize.com] is what the actual temple looks like)

    For chrissake, the blog post starts with "Reports are coming in", as if it was written by some international news channel, not some guy in his underwear sitting on the opposite side of the world.
    • by kpoole55 (1102793)

      Yah, that's what the temple looks like now that most of it has been excavated. There are enough other citations that you can find using Google to see the pyramid before the excavation.

  • by Phrogman (80473) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @10:17AM (#43720309) Homepage

    Most of the posts in response to this story seem to focus on
    * Bad Grammar
    * Bad Jokes
    * US Politics (how the fuck everything can be related to US politics is beyond me)
    * Ethnic Slurs (including of course the obligatory insults to Muslims that must appear in any article on anything these days. Keep up the hate guys, its only helping your reputation with the rest of the world).
    * Lastly, and apparently leastly, some outrage at the destruction of a part of human history, thus lessening our understanding of the same by some degree. A site like this belongs to all of humanity, its our heritage, its a way to understand where we came from and thus perhaps where we might be going. The people who knocked this temple down (and the owner of the company responsible) should be in prison for the rest of their lives.
    Hopefully this at least serves to make governments all through the region aware of the need to protect heritage sites like this. Without our history, we are *nothing*.

  • A bit of common sense would ask "was there a sign posted next to Mayan pyramid?" I'm not sure about most of the world, but where I live there are historical markers all over the place. Even if it's to inform you where an old church use to stand or where someone was born in the wilderness.

    Archaeologists can cry fowl all they want and file civil or criminal charges all they want. But did any of them even think to put a marker next to the mound of gravel and limestone saying this was a historical landmark?
  • by DarthVain (724186) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @01:36PM (#43722849)

    This has happened countless times over history, this is far from unique. There is little evidence to think it will stop, unless it is more valuable as ruins.

    Hadrian's Wall is a perfect example. "Hey free building stone sweet!" In this case it was used for roads, rather than dwellings. Old castles are subject to this as well. Heck the Vatican has destroyed a huge part of history, recycling ruins, particularly for valuable easily accessible marble, bronze, and just about anything from roman ruins. I am sure they felt that not only can they get great materials on the cheap, but also the destruction of heathen, pagan, temples is just a bonus!

    Ironically I think there should be a special place in hell for those that intentionally destroy historical artifacts that that.

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