- Vandals are caught carving initials on an ancient temple wall in the city of Tikal
- Temple was considered to be a UNESCO declared site for tourists
- The government imposes hefty fines for defacing the country’s monuments
Two tourists were caught red-handed carving their initials in the walls of a 1,300-year-old Mayan temple in Guatemala.
Vandals were spotted scribbling ‘A + P’ on a wall of the ancient Tikal Temple II pyramid in Flores of the northern Guatemalan, the temple is considered as one of the largest archaeological Mayan sites in Mesoamerica.
This ancient temple was found in 732 AD, Tikal Temple II is a part of Guatemala’s Tikal National Park which holds up to 142,333 acres of wetlands, savannah, tropical forests and out of all approximately 1,000 acres are filled with precious monuments and structures that make up to be declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979.
The tourists who have been vandalising the pyramid are known as Mesoamericans, a cultural site from the pre-Columbian societies that flourished before the Spanish colonisation of America in the 16th century.
The two tourists were spotted by a local tour leader Vinicio Alba Ruiz just after carving their initials into the ancient temple wall. As an environmentally-minded Guatemalan, he has warned them saying, if you visit this site you should respect the rules. He added, “They do not need further explanation, it is common sense.”
Alba Ruiz also urged officials to recruit more staff to ensure their heritage is more protected.’
The Guatemalan Tourism Industry (INGUAT) complained about the incident in a public statement and demanded that the Public Ministry of Culture and Sport, which manages the world heritage monument, hold the tourists accountable for the damage, CEN reports.
The Guatemalan Law for the Protection of the Cultural Heritage allows for fines of between £10,053 (100,000 GTQ) and £100 (1 million GTQ) for causing damage to ancient sites, as well as prison sentences of between six and nine years, according to reports.