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#464056 - 05/11/13 04:48 AM No More Noh Mul? Contractor Bulldozes Mayan Temple  
Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline
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Today we learned that a major Mayan Monument had been bulldozed for roadfill aggregate. 7news went to Orange Walk District, near the northern district boundary to find out that Noh Mul – or at least a large part of it – is no more. It’s a stunning development – and Jules Vasquez reports.

Jules Vasquez reporting
Noh Mul. it’s name means the Big Hill but it’s not so big any more, this once towering and stout ceremonial center in San Jose/San Pablo has been whittled down to a narrow core by excavators and bulldozers. Whodunnit? Contractors who’re using the rich gravel and limestone content to fill roads in nearby Douglas Village.

Now, this was the main temple, the ceremonial center for Noh Mul, at about 20 metres among the tallest buildings in Northern Belize - and it’s not centuries old, it’s millennia, thousands of years old and the thought that it’s rich limestone bricks cut with stone tools in the BC era, the thought that this could be used for road fill is a manifest outrage and a particularly painful one for these Archeologists who were called out to the area today. We were there when they first arrived and got their initial emotional reaction:

Dr. Allan Moore - Archaeologist, Institute of Archaeology
"This is one of the largest bulding in Norther Belize. I am appalled! I was hoping that when I was driving up from the main San Juan road that it would not be this one but when I got closer I couldn't believe it when I saw all the trucks. This is an incredible destruction."

Dr. John Morris - Archaeologist, Institute of Archaeology
"This is one of the worst that I have seen in my entire 25 years of Archaeology in Belize. We can't salvaged what has happened out here - it is an incredible display of ignorance. I am appalled and don't know what to say at this particular moment."

And so were we when we first arrived before the NICH team and this man who claims some control over the area - which is private property - came to us brandishing a machete and shouting threats at us. He arrived with the dumptrucks to haul more material - but after they saw us they retreated. But yesterday, they were there, CTV-3 captured this footage of the same excavator at work and trucks hauling away aggregate and this truck, the same one we say the machete man using today drove them out of the area. And while they had to retreat, the pillage continued unfettered. That didn’t happen today because the authorities were there but it had been happening for some time.

Jules Vasquez
"They chose this structure because it is such a good resource of gravel for the road fill?"

Dr. Allan Moore
"I would imagine that the structure - the mound would give them that sort of mixture of that rubble and that type of material they are looking for. I know that the Ministry of Works always complains that it makes road fill."

It makes good road fill and that is what it is being used for reportedly in nearby Douglas Village and incredible inversion of value, that what the Maya built with stone tools and manual labour ages ago is being demolished with heavy equipment, because these contractors are too lazy to find a proper quarry.

Dr. John Morris
"Whenever you have these large looking mounds out here - they are clearly going to be man made it is not going to be natural. This is Noh Mul it is one of the largest site in Belize. It is incredible that someone would actually have the gall to destroy this building out here. There is no way that one can say that they did not know. Even for you guys as lay people can look and you'll see the building. Regardless of whether or not they were aware of any excavation, I think that it is very clear to me that whomever is responsible for this will have to face the consequences of it. Because there is absolutely no way that they would not know that these are maya Mounds."

Now to be fair, there are about 2000 sites in Belize and tens of thousands of mounds all across the country and most of them look like this completely overgrown that look like abrupt hills or elevations but really, the Maya built them all and they are everywhere.

Jules Vasquez
"Now suppose someone would flip the ctriticism and say 'Man you all are Archaeology - you all know this is here, then you all should have protected it, cordon it off or done soemthing with it so that ignorant people would not have their way with it.'"

Dr. Allan Moore
"I like your approach and I would say the same. Belize is 8,867 square miles of jungle. We are only around 16 personell in the department. We can't be in the Chiquibul and at the same time being at La Milpa. We applaud whoever can help us. It is our herritage and we all have to chip in and when things like this happen - it affects all of us."

Indeed, it impoverishes all of Belize’s patrimony particularly for this site, one of the four major Mayan sites in all of northern Belize from the pre-classic era.

We found monochrome pottery shards typical of the pre-classic area all over the place, many reduced to rubble, and indeed we could have even played amateur archaeologist and who knows what they got out of this hole where someone tunneled in.

Dr. Allan Moore
"Well obviously Jules this was around maybe 250bc and it would have been part of the ceremonial precinct, this would have been probably a public building or a building where the Nobels or the High Priest would have occupied. This building would have been probably the focal point. These mounds you are seeing around here and another group over there - they might have had connectivity between ceremonial administrative religious function here. This was sort of the epi-center of this settlement."

Dr. John Morris
"Like a huge palace or building or a huge temple it would have had many rooms in there, multi-layered rooms so you have rooms for people living and you would also had several tombs in there of the people who lived in this area here."

The name we saw on the heavy equipment is D-Mar Construction - owned by Denny Grijalva, UDP hopeful for Orange Walk Central. Grijalva said he knew nothing about the project and referred us to his foreman who never answered at least a dozen calls we made to him. Then Grijalva said he would be there in twenty minutes, we waited fourty and left - we had been stood up.

The Archaeologists from NICH went back and brought police officers to make sure workstopped - police photographed it like any crime scene dwarfed by the scale of the monument.

Dr. Allan Moore
"We usually bring the police with us they help us to put a stop order to the work that's been carried out here by the bulldozer. If there were anyone out here when the police came we would have probably taken them to the Police station for questioning because they have no business doing this out here. The primary legal aspect of this case here is going to rest on the destruction of an ancient Maya Monument/Building."

Jules Vasquez
"Just for the avoidance of doubt - all work here must cease and desist immediately?"

Dr. Allan Moore
"Yes I think we will have to get a word with whoever is in charge and tell them to quit now and all operations would have to stop."

But, really, it’s too late, the archaeologists say it’s been dug so deep in the middle in that when the rain comes, it could well collapse. So, once a monument to antiquity now a monument to ignorance and expediency.

Dr. Allan Moore
"It's a monument of ignorance and unfortunately that's the way it is. We always try to look at the positive side. Now we will probably have to look at this and say that it is a good example of what not to do."

Director of the Institute of Archeology Dr. Jaime Awe told us today that what has happened is “intolerable.” He says they will lay charges against the company D-Mar’s and the landowner because the machinery was on site and the land owner should have not given permission for the mining to have proceeded. We’ll keep following that part of the story.

To give a broader sense of context – the site known as Noh Mul or “Big Hill” is scattered over a wide area about 12 square miles – and is estimated to have been home to 40,000 people between 500 and 250 BC. There are about 81 separate buildings – all on private property. But the one that has been destroyed is the namesake, the Big Hill - as it was the ceremonial center and main structure.

Interestingly, Grijlava told us that when his foreman got there, he would apologize on behalf of the company, D-Mar’s and the Deputy Prime Minister, Gaspar Vega. Vega’s name comes in because Noh Mul is in Orange Walk North, and the roadfill is reportedly being used in nearby Douglas Village. Of course, we never met the foreman, but we have learned that after we left with the Archeologists, he did arrive and removed the heavy equipment.

Channel 7

Is Minister Of Resources Destroying Maya Mount?

Belize’s first and most enduring inhabitants, the Maya, left a rich legacy of art, science and mathematics that continues to unfold and astound us. Much of this ancient knowledge was lost leaving many Maya records parts of their history and predictions in stone inscriptions that can be seen today in stelae and the remains of elaborate cities, buildings, and temples that survived centuries of jungle encroachment. But unfortunately they are been put to risk as is the case of a Maya Mount located in the Village of San Juan in the Orange Walk District which is being excavated for white marl allegedly being used for a project carried out by Orange Walk North Area Representative Gaspar Vega who also happens to be the Minister of Natural Resources. After receiving several calls from concerned residents of Nuevo San Juan we headed to the area and here is what we found out.

Victor Castillo - Reporting

After receiving several calls this morning, mainly from villagers of Nuevo San Juan located in Orange Walk, we headed out to the area where we observed this heavy machine unearthing white marl from what is believed to be a Maya Mount. Upon sighting our news team an individual driving this grey Toyota pickup truck with licence plate OW C-17439 impeded us from getting closer to the area by blocking our path.

The man came out of the vehicle and told us that we were invading a private property. Our camera; however, kept rolling as the excavation continued. As you can see the white marl is transported in dump trucks including this one which has the logo of De Mars Stone Company imprinted on it.

During the course of the morning we were unable to find out where the dirt was being taken and what it is being used for. But things changed when we headed back to the village this afternoon and spoke to Isaias Blanco, Chairman of Nuevo San Juan, who told us he had no idea that excavation was taking place in the area which he confirmed is a Maya Mount.

Isaias Blanco – Chairman Of San Juan

“Bueno como los que estamos viendo que están destruyendo algo que nuestros ancestros nos dejaron que son los Mayas y están destruyendo nuestra identidad. Para nada se me ha comentado nada y yo soy el alcalde y como el gobierno siempre es lo que hace machuca a los alcaldes y sin informarles hacen lo que ellos quieran, sin informarles a los alcaldes de la aldeas no.”

According to Blanco the white marl is being used for a project carried out by the Minister Of Natural Resources and Orange Walk North Area Representative Honourable Gaspar Vega.

Isaias Blanco – Chairman Of San Juan

“Pues a lo que me han informado lo están llevando a la aldea de Douglas para rellenar las calles de Douglas para el proyecto del Ministro Gaspar Vega.”

This afternoon when we spoke with Dr. Jaime Awe from the Department of Archaeology, he told us that the law clearly states that the destruction of any Maya Mount, ancient Maya building, temple and archaeological site is illegal under the NICH Act 2003 whether they are in Private Properties or not. We will have more on this story in tomorrow’s newscast.


#464090 - 05/11/13 11:58 AM Re: No More Noh Mul? Contractor Bulldozes Mayan Temple [Re: Marty]  
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Posts: 324
Wizardofaahs Offline
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This hurts my heart.

There has to be a way to teach Every person in Belize to honor and respect the importance and the value of ALL of nature, archeological, and natural resources in their country. The Belizean people must want to protect and preserve these assets. Ignorance and the desire for capital gain is destroying this country. Protection of archeologic sites, the wildlife, the reef and their heritage is the responsibility of every individual.

Words have power. Speak it into existence.
#464174 - 05/13/13 05:02 AM Re: No More Noh Mul? Contractor Bulldozes Mayan Temple [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 52,656
Marty Offline
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Destroying Belize's History for Land Fill

Yesterday we broke the news of the Maya edifice that is being destroyed in the Village of Nuevo San Juan in the Orange Walk District. When we arrived in the area we observed a heavy machine excavating the Maya Mount for white marl. Sources tell us that the excavation is being carried out by De Mar’s Stone Company, owned by UDP stalwart Denny Grijalva. The material obtained from the archeological site is being used by the company who was awarded a contract by Government to upgrade roads in the villages of Orange Walk North represented by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Natural Resources Honorable Gaspar Vega. Now, we don’t know if the upgrading of roads in Orange Walk North forms part of a political propaganda since Village Elections is right around the corner, but what we do know is that one of the largest Maya structures in Northern Belize has been destroyed and the demolishing will have serious repercussions.

When we arrived in the area today, the scenario was less hostile that what we encountered yesterday when this grey Toyota pickup truck impeded us from getting closer to one of the Maya Mounts that forms part of the Nok Mul Archeological Site meaning Big Hill in Maya.

With no one in sight we were able to get closer to the Maya Mount which as you can see is almost completely destroyed and apparently this is the machine that is doing all the damage.

No one was behind the machine today and there were no dump trucks in sight but that was only for a short while. A few minutes after our camera started rolling, the dump trucks arrived in the area ready to be loaded. Of course we were not welcomed with open arms; in fact, we can safely say that this individual wielding his machete is the same one that impeded our path yesterday.

But despite several threats we waited for Doctor John Morris and Doctor Allan Moore from the Archeological Department who arrived in the area shortly after. Of course, they were appalled by what they saw and their first reaction was, “someone has to be penalized.”

Doctor John Morris- Archeological Department

“You can see that this building was constructed in four construction phase because if you see in the left hand side you see one-third in the second level and the third level of at the top and then what you looking at over there, that is a vaulted room, you can see the curvature of the vault of the room on top. This is set of destruction of a building, this is one of the largest buildings in northern Belize and for it to be completely destroyed like this is deplorable, and we will need to take someone to court for this.

Jules Vasquez – Channel 7 Reporter

“Sir, I spoke to Mr. Grijalva who is a political aspirant of the area but also owns the company that I saw hauling material and he said that it is the village chairman who showed them the whereabouts, who show them where to extract the material from.”

Doctor John Morris- Archeological Department

“It is quite obvious that in northern Belize is very flat, land and whenever you have these large looking mounts out there they are clearly going to be manmade they are not going to be something that is natural and I am surprised that the chairman would have led somebody out here to excavate or to dig this building because this is an areas well known by the people of San Jose and San Pablo to have a  number of ancient Maya buildings out here, this is NOK MUL this is one of the largest site in northern Belize.  We have actually come out here a number of times to deal with this type of issue.”

Jules Vasquez – Channel 7 Reporter

“So, you are familiar with this site in its natural state?”

Doctor John Morris- Archeological Department

“In its natural state, we are very familiar with NOK MUL, we are very familiar with San Jose/San Pablo area in fact we have maps of all mount here and it is incredible that someone would actually have the gall to destroy this building.”

This particular mount, apart from being one of the largest structures in Northern Belize, is believed to have been constructed around 250 B.C, forming part of a ceremonial precinct. It is believed to have been either a public building or and edifice used by nobles or high priests. With an estimated 60 feet in height, this particular Maya Mount is believed to have been the focal point of other small mounts found in the area, marking the epicenter of the Maya settlement in Northern Belize. And while we may never know the secrets that lay beneath the layers of this edifice, what we do know is that a structure from the pre-classic period is being used as a quarry and the laws of Belize that protect all Archeological Sites, were violated.

Doctor John Morris- Archeological Department

“The primary legal aspect of this case here is going to rest on the destruction of an ancient Maya monument or ancient Maya building and that is one of the most, I would say one of the most stringent of the laws that we have as opposed to, let’s assume the buying and selling of an artifact, this is a destruction of a complete monument and that carries with it a large fine and prison term depending on the judge.”

And while we have heard of the elimination of other Archeological Sites, this time, history was destroyed in the worst manner.

Doctor John Morris- Archeological Department

“In this particular case from what I am looking at now, from what I am seeing there that is the entrance to a room which was part of the main temple out here and so it would have been a vaulted room it could have been perhaps a tomb of the elite or it could also just be a ceremonial room where they would conduct some of the rituals or so. This building  would have been somewhere about forty feet in height, like huge palace building or a huge temple, it would have had many rooms in there, it was a multi rooms layered so you would have rooms for people living and you would have also several tombs in there of the elite who would have lived here.  This is one of the worst I have seen in my entire 25 years of archaeology in Belize and there is very little that we can do to salvage what is out here today, it is an incredible display of ignorance, I am appalled I just don’t know what to say today at this particular moment.  The destruction seems to be quite devastating and I mean look at this machines it would destroy everything that it in there, I need to do further assessment on this because money wise I just don’t know what to say for ones I am at lost for words.”

But the demolishing of this mount did not only wipeout part of Belize’s History, it will also affect the Tourism Industry.

Doctor Allan Moore- Archeological Department

“I remember in the late 70’s and the early 90’s I was a part of the team that was doing the actual surveying of NOK MUL at that time, we were all looking at the information that it would further give an all prospects that this would give to the north and now I don’t know what it can do for the north in value of destruction that has taken place.  I was hoping that when I was driving up from the main San Juan road that I would not be this one but the closer I got I just could not believe and seeing all the trucks, this is an incredible destruction.”

Jules Vasquez – Channel 7 Reporter

“Explain the importance of this structure in the entire assessment of the pre-classic Maya in this region?”

Doctor Allan Moore- Archeological Department

“There are not many of them but what we are trying to do is to build the Maya civilization and it’s important for it chronology in terms of putting to data some of the evidence that we found here that would fall under pre-classic Maya that would give us evidence that hey some of the early Mayas that occupied Belize were first occupying San Juan area and as things evolved it could have been from NOK MUL, from Cuello other little satellites communities that would have sprung up in the northern area, so that we could have built on that history and we still are and we still will be building on the history but now that evidence lost is evidence gone we know there was a NOK MUL and that it has produce early evidence of settlement in the northern Belize area.”

According to the archeological department, the Ministry of Works for decades has been exploiting what the Mayas constructed centuries ago in order to obtain high quality material that is then used for land fill.

Doctor Allan Moore- Archeological Department

“We have always been there with the ministry of works to saying well hey please when you are out there looking for material, please don’t destroy the mounts we need the mount, we have had them telling us, and I can smile about this, other than white lime in northern Belize we don’t have that gravel you can imagine they are getting mixed material here and that makes good road fill, and I say leave those road fill in its entirety right there.”

Jules Vasquez – Channel 7 Reporter

“So, they throw this structure because it is such a good resource for gravel for the road fill?”

Doctor Allan Moore- Archeological Department

“The structure, the mount would give them a sort of that mixture of that rubble and that type of material they are looking for.  I know that the ministry of works always complain that it makes good road fill and that is why we’ve been behind them time and time again, as a matter of fact right now we are on an anti-looting campaign but I think we should extend this anti-looting to anti-destruction, we just signed an agreement with the U.S. government for the preservation and the restitution and the repatriation of artifacts if they are found.  We are not saying this was a looting, it was intentional done for looting , I think it is more for aggregates, for gravel, for fill but if anything comes out from this we don’t know what material, what artifacts, what cultural material would have been gotten out of this. Belize is 8,867 sq. miles of jungle , we are only about 16 personnel in the department and this is why we need our educational campaign but even without our educational campaign it has to be sustained, it has to be sustained because we need soldiers out there, we need people to helps us and I think who ever reported this has done a good job I will commend them because we can’t be in the Chikkibul and at the same time being at La Milpa and at the same time , we applaud whoever can help us it is our heritage, we all have to chip in and when things like this happen it affects all of us, the tourism dollar and the information.”

We understand that the destruction of the mount has been taking place for quite some time and that all the extracted material is used for the upgrading of streets and roads that fall under the constituency of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Natural Resources, Honorable Gaspar Vega. Our sources tell us that the contract was awarded to De Mar’s Stone Company, owned by UDP political aspirant Denny Grijalva. Probably that is why most of the dump trucks transporting the material and this heavy machinery have the logo of De Mar’s Stone Company imprinted on them.

Of note is that we were still in the area when police arrived with a stop order to discontinue the excavation. According to Doctor John Moore the excavator will be impounded until a further investigation is carried out. All efforts to obtain an interview with Denny Grijalva or Javier Nunez, who is the person in charge of the project, proved futile. We understand that if any charges are being levied it will be upon the owner of the machinery and the owner of the property where the mount is located.


#464276 - 05/14/13 04:55 AM Re: No More Noh Mul? Contractor Bulldozes Mayan Temple [Re: Marty]  
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Norman Hammond, an emeritus professor of archaeology at Boston University who worked in Belizean research projects in the 1980s, wrote in an email that "bulldozing Maya mounds for road fill is an endemic problem in Belize (the whole of the San Estevan centre has gone, both of the major pyramids at Louisville, other structures at Nohmul, many smaller sites), but this sounds like the biggest yet."

#464281 - 05/14/13 05:11 AM Re: No More Noh Mul? Contractor Bulldozes Mayan Temple [Re: Marty]  
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Opposition Party Speaks On Destruction of Mayan Temple

The PUP weighed in on the destruction of a portion of the NohMul Mayan Temple in the Orange Walk District.

The party stated that the structure, which was constructed by the Mayas thousands of years ago, was one of the tallest Mayan temples in Northern Belize and expressed that its contents will be used as landfill. The PUP says it deplores the demolition of the site which is important to Belizean history and culture and an integral component of a developing tourism industry.

The PUP Northern Caucus condemns the destruction of Noh Mul and calls on the government to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice and that the full extent of the law is applied.


#464284 - 05/14/13 05:18 AM Re: No More Noh Mul? Contractor Bulldozes Mayan Temple [Re: Marty]  
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Mayan Nohmul Pyramid In Belize Destroyed By Bulldozer

A construction company has essentially destroyed one of Belize's largest Mayan pyramids with backhoes and bulldozers to extract crushed rock for a road-building project, authorities announced on Monday.

The head of the Belize Institute of Archaeology, Jaime Awe, said the destruction at the Nohmul complex in northern Belize was detected late last week. The ceremonial center dates back at least 2,300 years and is the most important site in northern Belize, near 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 said. "It's like being punched in the stomach, it's just so horrendous."

Nohmul sat in the middle of a privately owned sugar cane field, and lacked the even stone sides frequently seen in reconstructed or better-preserved pyramids. But Awe said the builders could not possibly have mistaken the pyramid mound, which is about 100 feet tall, for a natural hill because the ruins were well-known and the landscape there is naturally flat.

"These guys knew that this was an ancient structure. It's just bloody laziness", Awe said.

Photos from the scene showed backhoes clawing away at the pyramid's sloping sides, leaving an isolated core of limestone cobbles at the center, with what appears to be a narrow Mayan chamber dangling above one clawed-out section.

"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," said Awe. "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."

Belizean police said they are conducting an investigation and criminal charges are possible. The Nohmul complex sits on private land, but Belizean law says that any pre-Hispanic ruins are under government protection.

The Belize community-action group Citizens Organized for Liberty Through Action called the destruction of the archaeological site "an obscene example of disrespect for the environment and history."

It is not the first time it's happened in Belize, a country of about 350,000 people that is largely covered in jungle and dotted with hundreds of Mayan ruin sites, though few as large as Nohmul.

Norman Hammond, an emeritus professor of archaeology at Boston University who worked in Belizean research projects in the 1980s, wrote in an email that "bulldozing Maya mounds for road fill is an endemic problem in Belize (the whole of the San Estevan center has gone, both of the major pyramids at Louisville, other structures at Nohmul, many smaller sites), but this sounds like the biggest yet."

Arlen Chase, chairman of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Central Florida, said, "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."

"Unfortunately, they (destruction of sites) are all too common, but not usually in the center of a large Maya site," Chase wrote.

He said there had probably still been much to learn from the site. "A great deal of archaeology was undertaken at Nohmul in the `70s and `80s, but this only sampled a small part of this large center."

Belize isn't the only place where the handiwork of the far-flung and enormously prolific Maya builders is being destroyed. The ancient Mayas spread across southeastern Mexico and through Guatemala, Honduras and Belize.

"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," wrote Francisco Estrada-Belli, a professor at Tulane University's Anthropology Department.

"Unfortunately, this destruction of our heritage is irreversible but many don't take it seriously," he added. "The only way to stop it is by showing that it is a major crime and people can and will go to jail for it."

Robert Rosenswig, an archaeologist at the State University of New York at Albany, described the difficult and heartbreaking work of trying to salvage information at the nearby site of San Estevan following similar destruction around 2005.

"Bulldozing damage at San Estevan is extensive and the site is littered with Classic period potsherds," he wrote in an academic paper describing the scene. "We spent a number of days at the beginning of the 2005 season trying to figure out the extent of the damage .... after scratching our heads for many days, a bulldozer showed up and we realized that what appear to be mounds, when overgrown with chest-high vegetation, are actually recently bulldozed garbage piles."

However small the compensation, bulldozing pyramids is one very brutal way of revealing the inner cores of the structures, which were often built up in periodic stages of construction.

"The one advantage of this massive destruction, to the core site, is that the remains of early domestic activity are now visible on the surface," Rosenswig wrote.

Huffington Post

#464287 - 05/14/13 05:46 AM Re: No More Noh Mul? Contractor Bulldozes Mayan Temple [Re: Marty]  
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Important Maya monument is savaged; U.D.P. political aspirant is responsible

There is huge public outrage over the reckless destruction of Noh Mul, one of the most important Mayan monuments in northern Belize. Noh Mul stood proudly ten miles north of Orange Walk; it was known as the Big Hill constructed over two thousand years ago. The site consisted of two twin ceremonial clusters surrounded by several plazas and connected by a central causeway. Tonight, only a small mound of rubble now stands where once the towering Mayan monument stood. Late last week, the structure was savaged by heavy equipment owned by contractor, Denny Grijalva, a U.D.P. political aspirant, purportedly for material to fill roads in a nearby community. Archaeologists who visited the site claimed that it was an appalling act of reckless destruction, and their outrage and dismay were still very much in evidence today. Mike Rudon has the story.

Jaime Awe

Dr. Jaime Awe, Director, Institute of Archaeology

“The site of Noh Mul is located in the vicinity of the villages of San Jose/San Pablo, just north of Orange Walk Town. That site has been known archeologically for more than fifty years. In fact, in the 1980s we had some archeological research that was conducted there by people from Cambridge University in the United Kingdom as well as some work that was done by a couple of archeologists who now work at Caracol, the Chases who were then at the University of Pennsylvania. The site had been surveyed, we have several reports in our offices about the site and in fact I think there might even be a PhD dissertation, thesis that was written on the site.”

Mike Rudon, Reporting

In fact, Director of Archaeology Jaime Awe says there is absolutely no way that anybody could have accidentally destroyed the monument, which stood almost eighty feet tall.

Jaime Awe

“Noh Mul was certainly an is certainly a well known site in Orange Walk. In fact, I don’t think any of the villagers in either San Pablo or San Jose, could say or would say that they are not familiar with this site. The destruction that occurred at Noh Mul was anything but accidental. I think that the people who went out there to start to destroy that temple, that pyramid, knew exactly what they were doing.”

Allan Moore, Archaeologist, NICH

“I don’t know what to say about that other than it is sad to see how people would devastate our cultural patrimony as that. And I can’t see why… it is not ignorance.”

Allan Moore

ut ignorance or not, the mound is destroyed, and both Awe and Moore are outraged. They cannot comprehend how this could have happened, and say that nothing can ever replace what has been lost.

Jaime Awe

“The experience of having to see the images of the destruction at Noh Mul is in many ways probably one of the worse set of blows I have felt philosophically and professionally in that regard because what happened there is both deplorable and unforgivable. When one sees the heritage of our country being purposely destroyed for no good reason and particularly when people like myself or the other archeologists at NICH have spent our careers trying to protect and preserve this archeological heritage; to see it destroyed like that it is like when the boxer throws in the towel at the ring.”

Mike Rudon

“What kind of damage has been done at the site?”

Allan Moore

“Irreversible. I mean you can’t even quantify it. Culture is not about money. Your patrimony is not about money. It is the value of your identity; it is the value of your Belizean-ness in you. It is the value of having that affinity to a past. That’s what makes Belizeans, Belizeans. It’s the passion; we know where we come from, we have a common root and the wholesomeness of culture. You can’t sell culture, you can’t buy culture; it is within you. And that is priceless as far as I am concerned.”

Jaime Awe

“I’m going out to site on Wednesday and we are hoping to look at it and see if there is anything at all that we will be able to recover from the amount of stuff that has been destroyed there. I’m hoping that there will be bits and pieces that we can acquire from any kind of work that we do there. But to say that we can try to preserve the building anymore; that is impossible.”

The site is located on private land, but these men who have given their lives to preserving our rich history say that doesn’t matter, or make what has been done right or legal.

Jaime Awe

“We have been informed that the owner of D-Mars is Mister Grijalva. What we then discussed is that the archeologists will go into the police station; take the police there so that they could record the damage with the full intention that we will take this matter to court. And so the next step is that the police are getting some more information on who is responsible, who the land owner is and the purpose of that is to seek that this matter goes to court. And the reason is that it is against the law; it is against the nature act to willfully destroy an ancient monument. And the denature act. Any willful destruction of an ancient site or monument has penalties of ten years imprisonment or ten thousand dollars for this kind of destruction. So the matter will go to court and hopefully that litigation will come through.”

Allan Moore

“It doesn’t matter who owns the property. Though shall not touch the mounds that are on your property. It is for the people and government of Belize. We as the Institute of Archeology are trustees; the people put that as trustees for us to protect. Just as the police; the people trust them to put law and order, people put we as archeologists to govern and to manage these sites for all of us—for the people of Belize, for Belize.”

Mike Rudon

“I see you come up with an eleventh commandment there just now.”

Allan Moore

“Yes, I have to do it. I feel passionate about it. And I’m not too happy about it. I’m not too happy.”

And to make an already deplorable situation worse, Awe says the damage to the site will make it near impossible to get grants from donors to preserve other sites, when our very own people are destroying them. Mike Rudon for News Five.

COLA says damage to Noh Mul deplorable and obscene

It is not the first time that there has been destruction to Noh Mul. Our records show that in June 1998, similar destructive activity was reported by the Archeology Department on one of the smaller plazas. Fortunately, the damage was not as extensive as it is tonight to the main ceremonial plaza. But the motive is the same; the material is sought for road construction due to the scarcity of quarries in the north. In the absence of an immediate response from the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and other relevant government agencies, Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action, COLA, is one of several organizations that have taken a zero tolerance position on the recent destruction of Noh Mul.  The monument was among the tallest man-made structures erected by the Mayas in northern Belize.  The usage of its millenary stones as road fill in the Orange Walk District has been described as deplorable and obscene.  COLA President Giovanni Brackett says the company responsible for the demolition of the ceremonial site should be made to pay a hefty penalty.

Giovanni Brackett

Giovanni Brackett, President, COLA

“We see it as obscene.  You can’t use no other term to better describe it. This is obscene that someone could destroy a national monument; to do something like this is appalling and you are lost for words. I mean to say, you would almost tear down an entire Mayan ruin, one of the highest in Orange Walk District for sand and gravel, to build road. And then you would say that you would offer an apology? We don’t need an apology right now; we need the stiffest penalty for this individual. What has happened here is uncalled for and we condemn it in the strongest term. And Isani to further elaborate, we are very concerned right now because several damages to the environment under the watch of the Minister of Natural Resources, Honorable Gaspar Vega, has gone almost unnoticed or even for a short while it comes up and then dies. We’ve seen the rosewood issue…culprits get caught, culprits get it back—in our point of view that is how we see it. We’ve seen where the rumor was that they wanted to build a helicopter pad on top of the Victoria Peak. That thank god didn’t go through. We have seen under this administration whereby a ruling against offshore contracts has been completely ignored and the ruling in the view of the government plays no role. We have seen that we have been blacklisted on the fishing for not being cooperative and reporting illegal fishing. And all of this has been happening not only under this administration, but specifically under the watch of the Honorable Gaspar Vega. And we continue to see issue just the other day; there were rumors of selling the island and the island having to be returned because it was supposed to be a protected area. And then you want to use language that is politically right to just brush this off as if though it is nothing. No this is total nonsense and it is unacceptable that the Belizean people have to stomach this sort of damages to the environment and to our natural monument. This administration needs to be put into check when it comes to the environment and to protecting our natural heritage. The question remains now; where is the Minister of Tourism? Where is he on the matter? Why hasn’t he put out a statement? Where is the B.T.B.? Where is the B.T.I.A.?”

Similarly, the People’s United Party has also issued a release condemning the destruction and plundering of Noh Mul, stating that the owner of the trucking company, Denny Grijalva, is a known member of the United Democratic Party and has been receiving government contracts for road repairs in the north.  Today, News Five made several attempts at contacting Denny Grijalvo for comment but we were unsuccessful.

Channel 5

#464315 - 05/14/13 07:59 AM Re: No More Noh Mul? Contractor Bulldozes Mayan Temple [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 52,656
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline

Director OF Institute Of Archaeology Says Noh Mul Temple A Write-Off

Today, there was no quarry work at the Mayan site of Noh Mul in the Orange Walk District. Police have shut it down, and the D-Mars, the company, which was extracting aggregates or road fill, has withdrawn from the area.

And while the work has stopped, it’s too late. Dr. Jaime Awe, the Director of the Institute of Archaeology today told us that from what he has seen in the report compiled by his Archaeologists, the site is completely destroyed.

Dr. Jaime Awe - Director, Institute of Archaeology
"Jules, the destruction is horrendous, its deplorable, its unforgivable. I had hoped that I could have gone in and find something that was salvageable. That we can go in and do repairs to the damages so that we could preserve some aspect of the ancient building. I completely regret that I have to say this - I think that 80% or more of this building is destroyed . There is simply no way or no hope that we could attempt any kind of preservation on this. The only thing left now is to watch the last bit of it crumble with the coming of the rainy season or to go in there and try to salvage the parts that remain that are scattered all over the site.”

Awe additionally told us that the Institute Of Archaeology is preparing a report, which will be submitted to police for investigation and prosecution.

Dr. Jaime Awe
“I firmly believe it is important that we seek legal action otherwise we are sending a message that it is not important to preserve this heritage. A report that is being prepared by Dr. Morris is that the normal line of action is that this report gets sent to the Police Department in Orange Walk with a request from the Institute of Archaeology and that the police lay the ground works for charges to be made against those that are held responsible. In this case charges against the construction company for willfully destroying an ancient monument and the land owner who have had to be given permission for the company to access the property and then allow the destruction to take place.”

Jules Vasquez “The offending company and who is responsible for this is owned by a member who is in the ruling party.”

Dr. Jaime Awe
“To me this isn’t a case to get one party or the other. If this person was under a PUP or a UDP administration I would have had the same reaction at this moment because in my eyes I work for the people of Belize and I have been interested with the protection and the preservation of the Archaeological Heritage of this country and that will always remain first and foremost as my goal.”

As we mentioned on Friday – the principal of D-Mar’s is known to be Denny Grijalva, UDP aspirant for Orange Walk Central. On Friday he claimed complete ignorance of the goings-on and referred us to his foreman, who did not show up to meet with the media and the NICH Archaeologists. Grijlava did tell us on the phone that his foreman would apologize for his company and the Deputy Prime Minister – in whose division, Orange Walk North the fill was reportedly being used. Grijalva did not return our calls today.

Today the Northern Caucus of the Opposition PUP sent out a statement saying it, quote, “strongly condemns the destruction and plundering of the ancient Maya Temple, Noh Mul, and calls on the government to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice and that the full extent of the law is applied.”

COLA also sent out a statement saying, it is quote, “an obscene example of disrespect…(and)wanton destruction and sacrilege.”

The story has been picked up by FOX News, the Huffington Post, the Associated Press and the New York Times.

And while it’s making major headlines now, historical context is always important. We checked back into our archives, and in August 1998, a UDP aspirant in Orange Walk North was caught up in the same situation – using one of the Noh Mul Mounds for road fill. The man at the center of the controversy then was Fred Martinez – and he and his contractor spoke to 7News.

(August 1998 Archives)
Fred Martinez – 1998 UDP – Polictical Aspirant (O.W North)
“Very shocking that it should occur”

Mr. Pott – Contractor
“I, myself have never gone in there knowing that it’s a Maya Ruin. I don’t know if it’s a Maya Ruin or it’s just a mound.”

Fred Martinez
“How do we stop this from occurring again? If the archaeologist would like to designated these I think they better put out some clear demarcation so that this doesn’t happen again.”

Again, that was from 1998 – since then, nothing has been done and the various Noh Mul structures remain overgrown. And while that mound was a part of the Noh Mul site – it was a different, much smaller mound. The one destroyed this time is described as the main ceremonial temple.

Channel 7

#464342 - 05/14/13 02:18 PM Re: No More Noh Mul? Contractor Bulldozes Mayan Temple [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 52,656
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline
from Mary Toy:

It’s also bad juju

“San Estevan was settled in the Preclassic Period and reached its greatest occupation levels in the Late Classic Period.

“Between the 1960s and the mid-1990s, much of San Estevan was mapped by archaeologists exploring the last incarnation of San Estevan as a Late Classic Period site.

“However, the focus of archaeological research on San Estavan abruptly changed in the late 1990s when bulldozers mining for limestone destroyed most of the Late Classic Period structures at San Estevan.

“(Ironically, the limestone mined from the San Estevan site and used in the construction of the Western Highway in Belize has caused many, many accidents and deaths due to the slickness of the limestone.)”

#464351 - 05/14/13 05:34 PM Re: No More Noh Mul? Contractor Bulldozes Mayan Temple [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 7,412
SimonB Offline
SimonB  Offline

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