In a true crime against culture, a construction company in Belize City has destroyed one of Belize’s largest Mayan pyramids to use it for gravel for road fill. Archeologists and locals say that there is no way that the company officials were unaware of the historical meaning of the pyramid when they took backhoes and bulldozers to it. Before they succeeded in eradicating the structure, locals took pictures showing the center of the pyramid still standing with a Mayan room exposed at the top.
Noh Mul (or Nohmul) is a pre-Columbian Maya site that was constructed before the 5th Century. It was considered unique and unusual for Mayan construction. Nohmul means “great mound” in (Yucatec) Maya.
John Morris, an archaeologist with the Institute of Archaeology, told 7newsbelize.com’s Jules Vasquez. “We can’t salvage what has happened out here — it’s an incredible display of ignorance. I am appalled and don’t know what to say at this particular moment.”
Jaime Awe, director of the Institute of Archaeology, expressed disgust at the scene and said that the pyramid could not be salvaged. While the Noh Mul complex sits on private land, Belizean law places any pre-Hispanic ruins under government protection.
The heavy equipment at the site belongs to D-Mar Construction. When confronted, Denny Grijalva, owner of the company, insisted that he knew nothing about the project.
Such a crime does incalculable damage to not just Belize but the world. Unfortunately, such crimes tend to be treated lightly in many countries in sentencing. Notably, according to experts, bulldozing Mayan sites for gravel is a common practice in Belize. That would indicate that criminal penalties were demonstrably too low for deterrence since detection would seem relatively high in such cases.