Illegal building threatens ancient sites in Teotihuacan in Mexico | Environmental News


The property owner is operating with ‘total impunity’ in the area where construction is prohibited, the zone head said.

Just beyond the towering pyramids that were once America’s most populous town, an illegal construction project threatens to badly damage the remains of temples and dozens of other ancient structures.

The landowner, where construction is strictly prohibited, ignored legal orders from Mexico’s antique institution INAH to stop construction over the past two months, sparking outrage that authorities have failed. to protect the ruins of Teotihuacan, one of Mexico’s leading tourist attractions.

Reuters did not locate or question the owner, whose name was not disclosed.

Rogelio Rivero Chong, director of the archaeological zone in Teotihuacan, said in an interview the police’s failure to intervene showed “total impunity” on the part of the owner.

The ancient ruins of Teotihuacan are the remains of a powerful and influential metropolis settled in 400 BC. [File: Henry Romero/Reuters]

In late April, INAH filed a criminal complaint against the owner with federal prosecutors alleging “damage to archaeological patrimony”. This week the institute documented the ongoing heavy construction of about 60 workers in the area, in line with statements from Mexico’s cultural ministry.

The prosecutor’s office where the complaint was filed did not respond to Reuters’ questions about the status of the complaint.

Teotihuacan, about 30 miles (50km) northeast of Mexico City, once boasted a population of at least 100,000 people mostly living in compounds of many stone family houses, most of which are decorated in many colors. on the mural.

The multi-ethnic town is a contemporary of the classical period Mayan city centers, but is known for its own distinct art and architecture. It prospered from 100 BC to 550 AD, thanks to extensive trade networks and a thriving ship-based economy that produced products such as ceramics, clothing and especially razor obsidian blades. .

Rivero Chong said the authorities have for years struggled to stop illegal construction, which is often done at night or on weekends. Local government investigators often arrive late to verify the damage, he said.

The ancient Teotihuacan pyramids are just part of several towns in San Juan Teotihuacan, Mexico. Much of the historic town is still under excavation [ File: Toya Sarno Jordan/Reuters]

A tall cinder block wall surrounds the illegal construction, located on two plots in an area known as Oztoyahualco which is believed to be one of the city’s oldest districts.

A past archaeological survey showed that a ceremonial event was there in at least three temples and about 25 different structures.

Teotihuacan was declared a world heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1987, a name in need of continued government protection in the area, Rivero Chong said.

A number of leading scholars have also urged the government to take action in recent days.

“For me, it really hurts,” said Linda Manzanilla, a veteran Teotihuacan archaeologist at Mexico’s National Autonomous University, referring to the latest illegal construction.

During one of his excavations in Teotihuacan in 1980, he excavated a residence in Oztoyahualco where stucco workers lived, next to a large obsidian workshop, not far from the three temples that are now under threat.

He recounted that the latest illegal construction was in an area west of the Moon Pyramid, where other nearby excavations revealed elaborate decorative structures built around the squares of a multi-layered about the old town.

“There’s probably a lot of complexes out there,” he said.





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