Photo: Ministerio de Cultura - Peru
The 5,000 year-old El Paraiso pyramid survived the test of time but did not survive an apparent land rights feud in Peru.
The pyramid is located near Lima in the San Martin de Porres district and is constructed of 12 pyramids. El Paraiso is considered one of the earliest examples of monumental stone architecture in the Americas dating back to 2,000 to 3,000 BC.
The fact that the pyramid structure consumes 158 acres of prime real estate is apparently why it was destroyed this past weekend. The lead archaeologist Marco Guillen Hugo in the region believes two construction companies that claim this is their land came under cover of night and knocked down the structure and also set fire to it. One of the 12 structures was completely destroyed and others slightly damaged.
El Paraiso housed close to 3,000 inhabitants from the Preceramic period requiring over 100,000 tons of rock to construct all 12 structures. El Paraiso says Hugo was probably used for religious ceremonies.
The government of Peru claims they have ownership of any land that houses antiquities and cultural treasures of the country. Destruction of archaeological treasures in Peru brings fines and an eight-year prison term.
El Paraiso was declared “untouchable” by the Peruvian government in 2008 because of its significance.