May 14 (Bloomberg) -- The overgrown ruins of a 2,300-year-old Mayan Temple in Belize were partially destroyed by contractors who wanted to use the limestone bricks for gravel to build a village road, according to the National Institute of Culture and Heritage.
“There was massive destruction and there’s very little we can do about it now,” John Morris, an archaeologist at the institute, said in phone interview today. “Now we have to ensure that we proceed with finding those who are guilty of it and start the process of prosecution.”
The site, known as Noh Mul, or Big Hill, is on private property and consists of 81 ancient buildings, which are protected by the National Institute of Culture and History Act. Archaeologists told 7 News Belize they were chased from the scene by a man with a machete before returning later with police to halt the destruction. Photos on the television station’s website showed a yellow excavator digging into the temple ruins.
The Mayan civilization extended through portions of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. There are hundreds of archaeological sites in Belize, 12 of which are managed by the Institute of Archeology, part of the National Institute of Culture.
Morris said Belize’s Cabinet is expected to address the incident in its weekly meeting today.
To contact the reporter on this story: Anna Edgerton in Miami at email@example.com.