Cave paintings dating back some five millennia have been vandalised at an archaeological site in Mexico.
At least 100 of the 200-plus pre-Hispanic paintings were damaged at the Cueva de las Pinturas (Cave of Paintings) at the Mitla archaeological site in the south-western Mexican state of Oaxaca, considered the most important of the Zapotec culture.
So far, no one has been identified on suspicion of carrying out the vandalism, which is believed to have taken place during the end-of-year celebrations when surveillance at the location, which is paid for by members of the community, was reduced.
The damage was reported by American researchers Elvira Duran Medina and David Bray who visited the cave on 14th December last year, and returned on 2nd January to discover the serious damage, which they photographed.
Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) confirmed the damage and is due to determine whether it is reversible and, if so, the cost of the site’s restoration in the coming days.
Duran told local media: “It is shocking that something so important was damaged in this way.”
The paintings found at Cueva de las Pinturas are small designs of different dimensions, styles, instruments, and colours, and attest to ancient life in the region. Bray told local media:”I don’t think there are many with these characteristics.”
Duran told local media: “Someone systematically scratched the vast majority of the paintings, and only those that were not so accessible were not affected. But they did do it to those within reach and they practically did not leave any intact.”
Bray added: “It is not only a crime against the archaeological heritage of Mexico, but against humanity.”
He recommends that INAH installs railings, surveillance cameras, and lighting in such sites as well as better support community surveillance staff to prevent further incidents.
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Story By: William McGee, Sub-Editor: Joana Mihajlovska, Agency: Newsflash
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