A construction company has decimated one of Belize's oldest and largest Mayan pyramids, reducing it to rubble for use as gravel in a road project. According to the Associated Press, the Nohmul complex in northern Belize, which is estimated to be around 2,300 years old, was torn down using backhoes and bulldozers.

Jaime Awe, director of the Belize Institute of Archeology told the AP, "It's a feeling of incredible disbelief because of the ignorance and the insensitivity ... they were using this for road fill. It's like being punched in the stomach, it's just so horrendous."

The complex, which stood in a privately-owned sugar cane field, was distinct from the surrounding landscape, said Awe. It is unlikely, he maintained, that the road-building crew mistook it for a natural hill.

"These guys knew that this was an ancient structure. It's just bloody laziness,", said Awe. He said to the AP:

"Just to realize that the ancient Maya acquired all this building material to erect these buildings, using nothing more than stone tools and quarried the stone, and carried this material on their heads, using tump lines," Awe said. "To think that today we have modern equipment, that you can go and excavate in a quarry anywhere, but that this company would completely disregard that and completely destroyed this building. Why can't these people just go and quarry somewhere that has no cultural significance? It's mind-boggling."

The BBC reported that prosecutors in Belize City are considering bringing criminal charges against the construction company.

"There is absolutely no way that they would not know that these are Maya mounds," Dr. John Morris of Belize's Institute of Archaeology told the BBC.

Even though the complex was on private land, Belizean law states that all pre-Hispanic ruins are protected by the government.

Currently, only the pyramid's slender inner core is left standing. The rest of the structure has been stripped away and crushed into gravel.

["Mayan Ruins In Chichen Itza, Mexico" on Shutterstock]