Apocalypse tourists damage Mayan pyramid

The crowds of tourists who flocked to Tikal in Guatemala to embrace the end of the world as not-really predicted by the Maya on December 21st, 2012, were as careless as they were ignorant. Tikal is the largest extant Mayan urban center and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The temples are too fragile to support climbers so they’re for looking only. I suppose when you’re expecting the world to end just because the 13th Bak’tun cycle of the Mayan Long Count calendar is coming to a close, you can’t be bothered to give a crap about preserving irreplaceable archaeological remains.

Ethnic Mayan priests held ceremonies celebrating the end of the cycle and the dawn of a new era at archaeological sites all over Central America. Tikal’s ceremony was attended by 7,000 tourists some of whom thought it would be a nifty idea to climb the stairs of Temple II, also known as the Temple of the Masks. According to Osvaldo Gomez, a technical adviser at Tikal, tourists attending the ceremony climbed Temple II causing irreparable damage. He did not provide specifics on the nature of the damage.

Tikal Temple II was built in honor of his wife Lady Kalajuun Une’ Mo’ by King Jasaw Chan K’awiil I who ruled Tikal and environs from 682 to 734 A.D. in the Late Classic period of Maya civilization. Jasaw Chan K’awiil I was a powerful king who revived the flagging fortunes of Tikal and conquered its main rival polity of Calakmul which you might recall as the hometown of the Lady Snake Lord. In 695, Jasaw Chan K’awiil I Calakmul so soundly that it never built another victory monument. He captured King Yuhknoom Yich’aak K’ahk’, who had been on the throne less than ten years since the demise of King Yuhknoom Ch’een the Great, Lady Snake Lord’s father.

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4 Comments »

Comment by rita Roberts
2012-12-31 04:01:33

Why Oh Why!! can’t these tourists be more respectful to these precious archaeological sites that were precious to those before them.Somehow it has to be stopped,maybe by placing heavy patrols both at the entrance and the main temples themselves.O.K. I know, this costs money but surely there are some volunteers willing to help on special occasions such as these. Vandalism seems to be ongoing at most archaeological sites around the world also.Help is always available for rioting so why not for situations such as this.Also when vandals are caught they should be severly punished.

 
Comment by James
2012-12-31 06:54:08

There always seems to be problems at the end of the world.

 
Comment by norm
2012-12-31 08:26:37

I’m afraid this report is one of those chicken little reports. I’m in Guatemala now and the only place I’m seeing this report is in the western news. Thirty years ago, there were no wooden steps to climb and everyone went up the stone steps, the stone steps would brake loose now and then and fall down the pyramid’s face-hence the wooden scaffold steps that are in place today. Any damage some yahoo idiots did can be fixed by hauling the stone back where it belongs-just like they did when they rebuilt the thing in the first place. The tourist money that poured in from those idiots was very welcome here. Come on down but please follow the rules.

 
Comment by LadyShea
2013-01-02 00:04:13

I just don’t understand people that purport to love and/or respect something or someplace-enough to visit it and enjoy time there- and then are so callous and stupid about it. Whether leaving picnic trash on the beach, harassing wildlife on the trail, or climbing ancient structures…just complete disregard for anything but indulging their own whims.

It makes no sense at all.

 
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