Two tourists have been caught carving their initials into the wall of a 1,300-year-old Mayan temple in Guatemala.
The tourists were caught carving ‘A + P’ onto the wall of Tikal Temple II in the ancient city of Tikal, one of the largest archaeological Mayan sites in Mesoamerica.
Located near the present-day city of Flores in the northern Guatemalan department of Peten, Tikal was founded in 732 AD.
Tikal Temple II is part of Guatemala’s Tikal National Park and in 1979 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The tourists were spotted carving into the ancient stone by Vinicio Alba Ruiz who said they became upset when he told them off. Their names and origin are unclear.
Alba Ruiz wrote on Facebook: “I found them carving on the walls of Temple II. When I asked what they were doing they got upset and seemed offended. If you come to this site you have to respect the rules. They do not need further explanation, it is common sense.”
Albar Ruiz added: “We need to recruit more staff to look after our heritage.”
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.
The Guatemalan Law for the Protection of the Cultural Heritage allows for fines of between 100,000 GTQ (10,040 GBP) and 1 million GTQ (100,415 GBP) for causing damage to ancient sites, as well prison sentences of between six and nine years, according to reports.
It is unclear whether the incident is being investigated.
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Story By: Jonathan Macias, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Central European News
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