Monday, March 21, 2011

'Just Looking for Bodies and Tombs'

Machu Picchu, one of the most coveted archaeological sites and tourist destinations today, is celebrating its 100th anniversary of rediscovery in July. Sadly many of Peru's ancient sites of the Moche culture 1,500 years ago are being ransacked by looters.

For archaeologists, the horror is in documenting "the hundreds of thousands of trenches scarring the landscape: a warren of man-made pillage. Gangs of looters, known as huaqueros, are ransacking Peru's heritage to illegally sell artefacts to collectors and tourists."

"They come at night to explore the ruins and dig the holes. They don't know the history, they're just looking for bodies and for tombs. They're just looking for things to sell," said a shopkeeper from a farming village.

A looting epidemic in Peru and other Latin American countries, has caused alarm about the region's vanishing heritage.

The Global Heritage Fund has identified nearly 200 "at risk" sites in developing nations, with South and Central America prominent.

The article encourages one to think about the valued sites throughout the world. For example, there is The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) with its 911 "world heritage sites" of historical, cultural, and natural value. How fortunate that we have a chronicle and fragile preservation of these cherished places.