Mexico quake damages archeological treasures
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -- A powerful earthquake that struck
southern Mexico this week damaged the important pre-Hispanic ruins of
Monte Alban, and other archaeological sites in the state of
Oaxaca, an official said on Saturday.
Samira Hernandez of the National Anthropology and History Institute
(INAH) in the state capital, Oaxaca City, said that 18 buildings in the
ancient Zapotec city of Monte Alban suffered moderate or partial damage
after Thursday's temblor.
"According to preliminary reports, 18 buildings were damaged partially
moderately, some walls collapsed and stucco fell off," Hernandez told
Measuring 7.5 on the open-ended Richter scale -- in the same league as
quake earlier this month in Taiwan that killed 2,000 and a temblor in Turkey
in August in which 15,000 died -- the earthquake could have wrought
severe devastation in built-up areas.
But it struck near the sparsely populated Pacific coast of Oaxaca and
originated deep below the ground, minimizing its impact. At the latest count,
the death toll stood at 19.
Founded in around 600 B.C. and abandoned around 1,300 years later,
Monte Alban looms over the Oaxaca valley from its vantage point on a high
hill outside the state capital.
With tombs found to be full of gold, silver and jade jewelry, the 25 square
mile (40 square km) site ranks as one of Mexico's premier archaeological
Its temples, palaces and pyramids, some displaying Olmec influences from
the eastern states of Tabasco and Veracruz, were decorated with intricate
frescoes of what have variously been taken to be dancers, prisoners of war
or even the ceremonies of a bizarre sex cult.
Monte Alban became world known after the discovery, verified in 1932 by
Mexican anthropologists, of Tomb 7, a spectacular burial chamber filled with
treasures and ornaments in quantities rarely matched through the
Hernandez said a group of experts from Mexico City was inspecting the
ruins on Saturday and the site had been closed to tourists because of the
dangers of falling debris.
She said another precious archaeological site, Mitla, 25 miles (40 km)
southeast of Oaxaca City, also suffered some damage when the quake tore
through the state. But it appeared to have been spared the worst and was
open to tourists.