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Where: Tikal, Guatemala
December 26, 2012 at 2:19 PM | by Omri
The largest ancient pre-Columbian Mayan archeological site in the world, Guatemala's UNESCO World Heritage site at Tikal, sustained "irreparable" damage from tourists throwing doomsday tourism parties last week. Some of the 7,000 revelers—hopped up on a combination of liquor and self-entitlement—scaled the steps of the site's ancient Temple of the Mask pyramid.
Tourists are explicitly forbidden from scaling the steps of Tikal's Temple II, as the pyramid is technically known, due to fears that they'll damage the structure. The rest of the story proceeds predictably.
What more can be said about this blood pressure-inducing travesty? It appears that at least a few of the people who made their way to various Mayan sites last week actually believed the world was going to end that night. Lots of snark has been directed at those doomsdayers, not entirely unfairly. It's a plain fact that fully 100% of all doomsday predictions have turned out to be wrong, which is actually a remarkable statistic if you think about it, and anyway it's difficult to believe that the Mayans had a sufficient grasp of general relativity to successfully project planetary collisions.
But we don't want to make this a post about how the Mayan doomsday theory was silly, though it was.
Just because the "end of the world" stuff made no sense doesn't mean there was anything wrong with Mayan Calendar tourism. There were plenty of legitimate trips available to travelers, and there was even a public ceremony that night at Tikal held by Mayan priests welcoming a new era. There was a way to do this without destroying ancient sites.
At the risk of cliche, let it be noted that this is exactly why we can't have nice things.
[Photo: mockney_piers / Flickr]
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