Mexico City: An ancient 2,300-year-old Mayan residential complex in Mexico has been destroyed by heavy machinery used to clear the land for pasture on a private ranch.
According to experts at the National Anthropology and History Institute (INAH), the Maya site near Chicxulub town in southeastern Yucutan state dates back to the 300 B.C. pre-classical period.
An inspection by archaeologists Angel Gongora and Victor Castillo determined that the ancient Mayan settlement covering one square kilometre suffered "irreversible" damage because the nucleus of the settlement was directly affected.
"If that is so, the loss is total and irreparable," Gongora said.
Both experts said among the rubble left by the earth-moving equipment they found the remains of walls, roofs and stairways, and a block from a cylindrical column believed to form part of the portico of one of the buildings.
Also toppled and cleared away were seven structures and two altars that stood in the main square.
Though at first, the owner of the premises, Ricardo Ascencio Maldonado, denied what had happened, he later admitted that the work was done to level the ground for pastureland.
He said he bought the land three months ago and no one ever told him it was an archaeological site.
The INAH has summoned him to testify before its attorneys to get to the bottom of what happened.
"Our duty is to protect the nation`s cultural heritage and we will act according to that principle," an official said.