On Friday's News, we showed you our interview with Dr. John Morris, the Director of NICH's Institute of Archaeology. He told the press that Creole Belizean Rupert Myles destroyed a portion of the Uxbenka Archaeological Site in the Mayan Village of Santa Cruz.

Dr. Morris revealed that his Government Department is in the process of sending Myles an official eviction notice, and that criminal charges for destroying a national monument will follow as soon as the damage assessment is completed. Now, the Uxbenka site, which is not excavated or officially protected by law as yet, only showed up on the public's radar because of the outrage of the Maya living in the village after Myles started building his house there. Well, Morris told us that it has been a priority for the Institute of Archaeology for some months now. He said they have done a lot of preparatory work to start excavating it. Unfortunately, the dispute between Santa Cruz and Rupert Myles happened, and the plans have been delayed a bit due to the need for criminal action:

Dr. John Morris, Director, Institute of Archaeology
"To reprise one of the earliest known Maya site in Southern Belize. In fact it dates to the early occupation dates to about I would say 250 AD which makes it very early because most of sites in Southern Belize are late. They are like 700 - 800 AD Nim Li Punit, Lubaantun, Pusilha. This is an early one so it's very important for us to protect a lot of the mounds in that area for future research, because it can tell us a lot about the early populations of ancient Maya in Toledo and then to just destroy these mounds just doesn't make sense. In fact the Ministry of Works, when they were building the road to Pueblo Viejo from the Dump, we spent an inordinate amount of time working with them so that they don't destroy any mounds on the way because the main road passes right through the middle of Uxbenka Archaeological Site, but the Ministry of Works were very cognizant of the fact and diverted the road a bit, so that we don't destroy them. Unfortunately the gentleman decided to bulldoze right off the main road unto the platform that the Ministry of Works was protecting for us. And that's a major platform for us. It's a big one and you've probably seen some of the images and so what do you say? As an archaeologist I cannot say that yes maybe you have differences with the villages, but those are personal kinds of things that you can have. You have committed an infraction which you have destroyed something that was built by the ancient Maya thousands of years ago."

"We have been excavating the site. in fact we've recently did lidar study which is a more comprehensive survey of the area using a lidar technology and we have found out that the size of the site triples, because in the past we were just cutting and using visuals and now that we were able to fly a plane over and do the higher technology, we realize that this site is far much larger than we had imagined. So it is extremely more important for us to preserve it. We are going to try and finish up our surveys within the next couple of months but then prepare the statutory instrument to declare it an archaeological reserve. Uxbenka is one of those sites that we were hoping that within the next year or 2 to open it to the general public."

"Now that this has happened, would you say that it's completely lost? I mean it can't be restored."

Dr. John Morris, Director, Institute of Archaeology
"No, it's not completely lost. That's one platform amongst 500 other mounds that are out there, but it's a platform that leads directly to this site core, so you'd have to drive past it. So what we'd have to do is come back in and do some kind of conservation works so that it doesn't look like somebody bulldozed the mound."

Morris says that their plan for this site is to turn it into a fully recognized national park with the requisite tourist opportunities for the village of Santa Cruz.

Channel 7