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More Ancient Ruins Destroyed

Created on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 19:42
Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 20:25

Since this past Saturday, has been reporting on the unconscionable destruction of the Mayan Temple Noh Mul, located in northern Belize. Then you start hearing reports from archaeologists in the field that this is a fairly common event in Belize. Well, just when you thought that you had heard the worst about the loss of irreplaceable historic cultural assets.

Earlier today I was contacted by Archaeologist Gary Ziegler who has been working down in Peru with yet another story concerning the destruction of ancient ruins.

By Gary Ziegler


1) Revisit Machu Picchu to evaluate new Ministry of Culture policies in place, the current effect of tourism and obtain additional photography for the Ziegler Malville book focusing on Inca astronomy, symbolism and sacred geography to be published in September.

2) Revisit Choquequirao and associated Inca sites. Collect additional data and photography for the book. Evaluate access routes and effects of increased tourism.

The Team: Steve Bein, Lillian Roberts, Joy Collins, Ken Mick, Ken Greenwood, Amanda Stouffer, Edwin Duenas, Paolo Greer, Gary Ziegler.

The Expedition:

April 18 - We gathered enthusiastically at Ollantaytambo. I escorted the team on a narrated tour of the principal temple complex there before our dinner organizational meeting. The next morning, we boarded an early train downriver to Aguascaliente and on to a day examination of Machu Picchu. (details follow in Observations).

After enjoying evening dinner and drinks at the bustling, tourist-laden Aguascaliente, we elected to walk downriver eleven kilometers the following morning, satisfyingly avoiding the absurdly overpriced train to the new road connection at Hydroelectrica. Our camp gear and transport van met us there. We drove on several hours up the Santa Teresa Valley to the small Andean community of Tortora. The new road is rough and barely passible. Camp was set in a flat field along side grazing pack mules, saddle horses and the trusted wrangler crew we had arranged to meet there.

April 20 - After packing and breakfast, we set out on horseback with pack train in tow along the old inca trail winding up and over 5000 meter high Yanama Pass. The trail was sadly destroyed in many places along with ancient pre-Inca walls and structures by freshly bulldozed rock slides along the new road. The road had already been blocked or slid away in a number of places during the recent rainy season. These previous cuts were now abandoned and a new route freshly carved out, sometimes on the opposite side of the ascending valley, accompanied by immense rock and gravel slides streaming hundreds of feet down slope.



Continuing over the pass, the destruction is worse. The road cuts through a centuries old Inca usnu platform and ancient rock-offering mounds, apachitas that had adorned the crest. Looking down the valley of the Yanama river the view is dominated by long, some more than a kilometer, switchbacks and huge road-debris waste slides. We know from research that this valley was the main route to Choquequirao. The upper valley below the pass contains vast pastures, remains of corrals and extensive crumbled walls built to contain large llama herds which transported the empireʼs valued coca produce from the fields and storage houses of the royal estate and regional ceremonial center, Choquequirao.

Latter, we came to the end of the road approaching the community of Yanama but still lacking a kilometer or so to go. A lone, big, D-8 bulldozer was surging away along the hillside attended by a supply and fuel vehicle, curiously with Mountain Lodge’s logo emblazoned on itʼs side. This is the first portion of a longer report which details the daily events of the expedition with images, diagrams, archaeological data, reservations and site descriptions. Please contact the author for the complete report.

Courtesy; Gary Ziegler

The Andean Research Project

US phone 719 -783-2076

mobile 719 371 2175

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