Posted: 23 Jul 2013 08:37 AM PDT
Posted: 23 Jul 2013 08:37 AM PDT
In Belize, they needed to build a road. Roads require rocks, there happened to be a really convenient, large pile of rocks for the construction team to use nearby. It also happened to be one of the largest Mayan pyramids in the country. Now that pyramid is gone, destroyed by bulldozers and backhoes.
The construction company building the road appears to have extracted crushed rocks from the pyramid to use as road fill. The pyramid, called the Nohmul complex, is at least 2,300 years old and sits on the border of Belize and Mexico. It’s over 100 feet tall, the largest pyramid in Belize left over from the Mayans.
Jaime Awe, the head of the Belize Institute of Archaeology said that the news was “like being punched in the stomach.” The pyramid was, he said, very clearly an ancient structure, so there’s no chance the team didn’t realize what they were doing. “These guys knew that this was an ancient structure. It’s just bloody laziness,” Awe told CBS News. He also said:
“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. 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.”
And it turns out that this is an ongoing problem in Belize. The country is littered with ruins (although none as large as Nohmul), and construction companies are constantly bulldozing them for road fill. An archaeologist at Boston University said that several other sites have already been destroyed by construction to use the rocks for building infrastructure. There isn’t much in the way of protection or management of these sites in Belize, so many people who live in the country either aren’t aware of their significance, or aren’t taught to care.
The Huffington Post has photographs from the scene, showing backhoes and bulldozers chipping away at the stone structure. HuffPo ends this story on a lighter note, pointing out that due to the destruction, archaeologists can now see the inner workings of the pyramid and the ways they were built.
More from Smithsonian.com:
Posted 2012/12/12 at 2:17 pm EST
LONDON, Dec. 12, 2012 (Reuters) — Scientists have found the earliest evidence of prehistoric cheese-making from a study of 7,500-year-old pottery fragments that are perforated just like modern cheese strainers.
Researchers from the University of Bristol in Britain, with colleagues in the United States and Poland, analyzed fatty acids embedded in prehistoric pottery from the Polish region of Kuyavia, and found they had been used to separate milk into fat-rich curds for cheese and lactose-containing whey.
“The presence of milk residues in sieves … constitutes the earliest direct evidence for cheese-making,” said Mélanie Salque from Bristol, one of the authors of the research, which was published in the journal Nature.
Peter Bogucki, another researcher involved in the work, said: “Making cheese allowed them to reduce the lactose content of milk, and we know that, at that time, most of the humans were not tolerant to lactose.”
Milk residues have been found at ancient sites up to 8,000 years old in Turkey and Libya, but there was no evidence that the milk had been processed into cheese.
Until now, the earliest evidence of cheese-making came from depictions of milk processing in murals several thousand years younger than the pottery fragments.
The researchers believe other vessels found in the same region were used for other specific purposes. Jars lined with beeswax were probably for storing water, and pottery containing the remnants of carcass fats was probably used for cooking meat.
“It is truly remarkable, the depth of insights into ancient human diet and food processing technologies these ancient fats preserved in archaeological ceramics are now providing us with,” said Richard Evershed, who heads the Bristol team.