Greed Destroys Again: Saying Good-bye To The Noh Mul Pyramid
May 20, 2013

Greed Destroys Again: Saying Good-bye To The Noh Mul Pyramid

Belize is ripe with controversy right now as one CNN article outlined, as a private landowner and contractor have bulldozed a Mayan pyramid, Noh Mul, that had stood for 2,300 years. That means that it was originally constructed around 250 B.C. To willfully destroy an ancient monument is against the law with penalties of ten years imprisonment or $10,000 for the destruction. Yet, the landowner and contractor pushed forward, literally, with backhoes and bulldozers last week.

Why destroy something crucial to history, philosophy, science, literature, the arts, mathematics, and even possibly religion, you ask? Well, that is a good question. Apparently, as CNN explained, the pyramid was built out of limestone brick, which is a quality material used to upgrade local roads, thus it is prized by contractors. Naturally, that means that contractors will pay much for it.

As one local Belize legislator, John Briceno, told CTV3 Belize News, “The Mayas use good material to build their temples, and these temples are close to (the village of) Douglas so that means that they have to use less diesel, less wear and tear; they can do more trips per day, and at the end of the day they can make more money, at the end of the day this is about making money, for us in Belize is not about making money it is about taking care about our heritage, taking care and protecting our patrimony,” and he said so with anger. He, and many others, see this as a disgrace that demands action.

Belize’s Institute of Archaeology director Jaime Awe held back no punches in his opinion on the destruction of the ancient monument, “What happened there is both deplorable and unforgiveable.” And you know what? Both he and Briceno are right.

What a ridiculous, ignorant, and selfish action the land owner and contractor took. Instead of recognizing the inherent and important value of such an ancient and historical place as Noh Mul, they chose greed. Their greed for money and profit killed the Mayan pyramid. Now, students from across the world can no longer experience the genius of the Mayan culture nor can researchers study the pyramid for historical significance. Scientists and archaeologists can never again walk into the ancient pyramid and glean knowledge of a people’s long gone, and those religiously interested can never again feel the spirituality that such a monument exudes. We can never learn from this again, period.

Jaime Awe did say that archaeologists would try to go through the rubble for artifacts, but the truth is that only bits and pieces will be left to acquire from the work they do there. As CNN said he told News5 in Belize, “But to say that we can try to preserve the building anymore; that is impossible.”

What a sad day for all people. Any science or knowledge otherwise that such a structure could have contributed is gone, forever, to make roads. These roads will be used to make money. Once again the almighty dollar, Belize dollar, wins over knowledge.

I am just overwhelmed with sadness. I cannot even muster anger, really. I mean, at this point anger only hurts the individual, namely me. The Mayan pyramid is gone, and no amount of anger will change that. But I do mourn all that was lost: the knowledge, history, life, spirituality, and science. Today is a sad day for all knowledge seekers. Today is a sad day for Noh Mul.

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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