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May 15, 2013

Commissioner of Archeology, Jaime Awe assesses destruction of Noh Mul

And while the release from Grijalva makes no reference to Mayan mounds, the fact is that the land is full of them, and they are very obvious even to the untrained eye. Commissioner of Archaeology, Dr. Jaime Awe and members of his team have maintained that the destruction of the monument could not possible be by accident. Today our team was on the site and we have to concur that it was obvious even to our layman’s eyes that the mounds, and specifically the remains of the tallest mound, could never be mistaken for just plain earth. Mike Rudon has that story.


Mike Rudon, Reporting

The last remnant of what was once a complete Mayan monument stands in the center of many different mounds, all clearly visible on the flat terrain. But there has been criticism levied at the Institute of Archaeology that this site wasn’t clearly marked and identified. Commissioner of Archaeology Jaime Awe refutes that statement, and Orange Walk resident and B.T.I.A. Chairman, Osmany Salas agrees that Noh Mul is known and recognized.


Jaime Awe

Dr. Jaime Awe, Commissioner of Archaeology

“This site is well known; in fact, it is the people in this community that gave it the name. We know that this site was surveyed and there was an archeological research project that worked here in the 1980s it was directed on by Norman Hemman under the auspices of Cambridge University. Many of the people in the community worked on that project. So it has been documented. It has not been excavated and conserved like Altun Ha or Cahal Pech or Xunantunich, but we know about it—just like hundreds of them. In the end, what I think is important, is that the protection and preservation of these sites does not only rest with NICH, does not only rest with the Institute of Archeology or the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, it is all of our responsibility—it is your responsibility, it is my responsibility. This is not just NICH’s cultural heritage, this is Belizean cultural heritage.”


Osmany Salas

Osmany Salas, Chairman, Orange Walk B.T.I.A.

“When I saw it on the screen for the first time, I was outraged already. Being out here and seeing it with our own eyes on the site, you are saddened…a whole slew of emotions: you are upset, you are discouraged. I mean you just can’t understand how somebody or some bodies could do such a senseless act. I mean being out here in the cane fields, it is obvious even to the lay-person that this is something special—everything else around it is flat except for all the mounds. And since I was a child—I was telling a colleague of mine on the way here—I knew in this northern region that anything that wasn’t flat probably had to be a Mayan mound. So I don’t know it is just, representing the Orange Walk Chapter of the Belize Tourism Industry Association, I think I speak for all of them when I say that we are deeply saddened and outraged about it. We hope that something is done about it by the authorities.”


In answer to criticism that the site was not being worked by the Institute of Archaeology, Awe explained that the sheer volume of the task makes a presence at all Mayan site and mounds impossible.


Dr. Jaime Awe

“The number of sites that we have excavated and conserved, as you put it, it is about ten. We can talk about Cerros, Lamanai in the north, Caracol, Xunantunich, Cahal Pech in Cayo, Altun ha in Belize District; we have Lubaantun an Nim Li Punit in Toledo. It is just a small handful and we have thousands of archeological sites in this country. I’ll give you the example of Caracol which is one of the biggest cities in our country; just like La Milpa which is here in Orange Walk. At Caracol, we have excavated and conserved maybe about a dozen buildings. We have mapped over a thousand buildings. So the amount of buildings that we have worked on is minuscule when you compare it to the large number of archeological sites that we have. And those that we are doing research, and I give you an example…every year, we average between fifteen and twenty research projects. But to research a site takes years—I’ve been working to Cahal Pech since 1988. I’ve been aging myself through the math and you would know that that’s been over twenty-two years and I’m still conserving the sites; still excavated areas that we haven’t excavated before. So it’s a long process; it’s an expensive process and that is why it is so important that we don’t say, oh the archeologists aren’t interested in this site, let’s just knock it down. No, we are interested in all these big sites; we need to preserve them.”


As we stood there today a group of Americans arrived to take a look at what was left of the site. Steve Parks has lived in Belize since late last year, and he was as amazed at the senseless destruction as born Belizean and tour operator Errol Cadle.


Errol Cadle

Errol Cadle, Lamanai Eco-Tours

“To see something like this, so old, over two thousand years ago just destroyed in a couple of days, there is no words for it. There are just not enough words to explain how something like this could happen in a beautiful country like ours where we try to promote tourism, try to promote the Mayan culture. And to see it just destroyed like this, I think the culprit needs to be jailed.”


Steve Parks, American

“I actually read about it first and I read the hometown newspaper from Idaho and it is actually a large article about the excavation of a Mayan ruin near northern Belize and so I looked forward and found the pictures on the internet and we just drove down here today to take a look at it.”


Mike Rudon

Steve Parks

“What was your feeling when you first saw the unbelievable destruction?”


Steve Parks

“Well it is unbelievable and I think I read something about how they didn’t know what it was. And I was like there is no way that somebody didn’t know what this was and it is obvious. Even somebody from Idaho knows what this is.”


Errol Cadle

“It’s all over the world; it is all over the world. It will damage tourism. We have to pay our taxes and stuff, we have to pay GST, we have to find and struggle to make little money to go up and down. My tour is mainly Lamanai Site, but me as a member of the B.T.I.A. here in Orange Walk, we always wanted to go to sites like Noh Mul, like Cuello Sites, there are other little sites that the taxi men can make something from. But if we continue to destroy these natural heritages like this, there will be nothing left for our kids in the future.”


The story of Noh Mul has been carried on practically all major international news media, and the storm of outrage and condemnation shows no signs of abating. Mike Rudon for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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4 Responses for “Commissioner of Archeology, Jaime Awe assesses destruction of Noh Mul”

  1. Storm says:

    Grijalva is just like the Taliban. He should be run out of the Jewel by the people themselves, shunned, businesses boycotted, brought to his Guatemalan knees.

    But he must serve his time in prison, too.

    We all must ask, why has he not been arrested?

  2. Upset says:

    How stupid can people be here in Belize, Belize on a whole in Pre-Columbian was a nest of Mayan communities all over present day Belize. in the region it currently has the highest Mayan Site per capita. you go out west to San Ignacio and Benque, driving alone the highway are clusters of Mayan sites. In the Belize District just Past Mile 12 on the Western Route is a location of at least 8 Mounds that are Mayan Temples waiting to be uncover (not destroyed). As a nation we have the tendency to act without thinking. in many cases we don’t care about the the effects of our actions may cause on tourism, the environment, the economy natural heritage and the list can go on and on. For Example, the man operating the excavator probably is from Orange Walk knows the location, knew what the mounds were, most likely did not can care one way or another, was told to take material from there and did so. Another find example is that people blatantly refuse to pay taxes thus the necessity to rely heavily on tourism. If we continue to be laid back and continue to be utterly reckless with our country, we will never see the days of lower fuel cost, better roads and cause ways, a more stable economy. People Let us take up our responsibilities and stop destroying our country

  3. Mad says:

    GRIJALVA SHOULD BE BURIED UNDER THE RUBBLE HE CREATED. SHAME ON HIM. I agree with Cadle that we use Maya sites to sell for tourism. We earn a living from Maya sites. How can we sell or advertise Maya sites when some idiots are destroying it and happening right before the eyes of the government. To make matters worse, its one of their party members, not just any member but a deep UDP suppoter. That tells us how ignorant the UDP government has become. They prefer to destroy for a quick cash. The impact is forever while the cash will run out any moment. This is the worst news coming out of Belize and all over the international media. Very stupid act. How can you not know you are not destroying a man-made hill. STUDIP STUIP, IDIOT CONTRACTORS!!!!

  4. Bear says:

    I’m with Mad and Storm and Neville — they ALL act like Taliban, destroying ancient works, so they should get Taliban punishment, from Grijalva to the truck drivers and everyone else involved: stone them to death!

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