Lifestyle & Belief

Belize calls for prosecutions in Mayan pyramid gutting


The El Castillo (The Castle), a step pyramid at the Chichen Itza archaeological site that was built by the Mayan civilization in the Mexican state of Yucatan, on Dec. 2, 2010.


Cris Bouroncle

Belize's deputy prime minister wants those responsible for destroying a Mayan temple during a road project prosecuted "to the fullest extent of the law."

Gaspar Vega, who also represents the area where the Nohmul pyramid was destroyed last week, called for the punishments in a a statement today obtained by CNN.

More from GlobalPost: Ancient Mayan pryamid gutted for Belize road project

"Cultural landmarks such as Noh Mul are sacred artifacts of Belizean history and should be protected at all costs. This expressed disdain for our laws and policies is incomprehensible," the statement said.

According to reports, only a tiny piece of the pyramid was left after the bulldozers and backhoes started their work.

The ruins were reportedly on private land but ancient Mayan buildings have state protection.

Archaeologists called the destruction shocking and a disgrace, and Belize's Ministry of Tourism and Culture said it had commissioned a full investigation of the incident.

More from GlobalPost: Maya calendar cycle celebrated throughout Central America (PHOTOS)

Belize's Institute of Archaeology also promised an investigation and said it planned to take those responsible to court.

"This Maya site is well known to the local community, who have worked on various projects at the site," John Morris, the institute's associate director of research, told National Geographic. "The Institute of Archaeology is going to use this opportunity to really embark on a national awareness campaign for the preservation and protection of the country."

First recorded in 1897, the Nohmul site on Belize's northern tip had been excavated on and off since the early 1900s and it thought to have been the center of a settlement of about 40,000 people in 250 BC.