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BELIZE CITY – Bulldozers and backhoes have essentially destroyed one of Belize's largest Mayan pyramids, which survived millennia of storms, rain and wind only to succumb to a construction company seeking gravel for road fill.
The head of the Belize Institute of Archaeology says the destruction was detected late last week, and only a small portion of the center of the pyramid mound was left standing, according to the Associated Press. 7Newsbelize.com, the website for TV channel 7 in the small Caribbean country, accompanied a handful of archaeologists to the site recent.
They described the destruction as "intolerable."
"This is one of the worst that I have seen in my entire 25 years of archaeology in Belize," 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, said he was sickened by the destruction of the Noh Mul pyramid and temple platform, which date back about 2,300 years. He told 7newsbelize.com it was "intolerable."
Photos of the remaining portion of the pyramid showed what appeared to be classic Mayan-arched chamber dangling above one clawed-out section.
The Noh Mul complex sits on private land, but Belizean law states any pre-Hispanic ruins are under government protection.
The heavy equipment at the site carries the name De' Mar's Stone Company, but Denny Grijalva, owner of the company, told 7newsbeilze he knew nothing about the project.
Morris said that the construction company must have been aware of the site's significance.
"There is absolutely no way that they would not know that these are Maya Mounds," he said.