10 Priceless Artifacts Destroyed by Idiots
#10 – Belize Pyramid
The ancient Egyptians may be the world’s most famous pyramid builders, but they certainly weren’t the only ones. The Mayans were also pretty into making giant pointy rock triangles, although mainly so they had somewhere cool to do their human sacrifices. One such pyramid called Noh Mul, was situated on the tiny Caribbean island of Belize. Excavated in 1908, Noh Mul was an impressive 17 meters tall and 50 meters wide. The 2,300 year old pyramid was also one of only 15 Mayan sites important enough to be featured on the National Geographic’s World Atlas.
You might notice it’s said “was” a lot there. That’s because in 2013 Noh Mul was bulldozed by the De-Mar Stone Company. You see, the company needed some limestone for a new road they were building. Locals were understandably outraged and, even though the pyramid was on private property Belize’s laws clearly state that all ancient sites are under government protection. After a legal challenge, the De-Mar Stone Company was eventually given a whooping, staggering fine of… $5,000. Yeah. That’s like blowing up the Colosseum and only getting community service.
#9 – Monet Painting
As anyone who frequents art museums will know, you haven’t really completed a gallery trip until you take the time to punch a couple of impressionist paintings in the face. In 2012, Andrew Shannon had exactly taht attitude when he cold-cocked a $12 million Monet, Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sailboat, in the middle of Ireland’s National Gallery.
As tends to happen when you preferred method of art criticism is slamming your fist through 143 year old paintings. Shannon was arrested. When asked why he did it, he replied “to get back at the state”. Because there’s no more coherent way to express your displeasure with the government than slugging a dead painter’s canvas. Shannon was sentenced to 5 years in jail and was banned from visiting museums for a further 15 months, It took two years of careful restoration but the painting’s punch-hole was eventually fixed.
#8 – Ancient Celtic Tomb
When we say the phrase: “great places to relax”, your first though probably isn’t “directly on top of a 6,000 year old dead person”. If it is, please seek help. Yet that’s exactly where people from the northern Spain village of Cristovo de Cea get to sit thanks to the ineptitude of local builders. While trying to fix up the area on a behalf of the council’s Parks Department in 2015, the builders stumbled across a pile of seemingly abandoned rocks. Those rocks were actually the markers of a multi-millennia old Neolithic tomb. The grave had been build by the ancient Celts for one of their dead and somehow managed to survive eons of erosion. That’s not what the builders thought, though. They assumed the tomb was just a broken picnic table and decided to throw away the old rocks, fill the ground with concrete and stick a new bench on top. To be fair, not too much blame sshould be on the builders. The historically important site had been left completely unsigned, and the town’s mayor didn’t even know what it was until archeologists started complaining.
#7 – Hercules Staue
Ever since the selfie was born, there have been people trying to come up with weird new versions of it. That’s what happened to two tourists visiting Cremona, Italy in 2015. When they tried to climb on am 18th century statue of a Hercules for a selfie, the statue’s crown broke clean off under their weight. The police investigated the matter, although it is not known what action was taken afterwards. Nor are they the only ones to desecrate ancient monuments for a selfie. IN 2014 a Russian tourist was fined $25,000 for scratching a giant ‘K’ into the wall of Colosseum. All because he wanted a cool photo for Instagram.
#6 – Dunster Cobbled Path
The quiet Somerset village of Dunster didn’t have many claims to fame. But one thing they did have was one of the world’s oldest cobblestone paths.
Cobblestone paths aren’t exactly as exciting as Mayan temples or priceless masterpieces but this path was significant just for how old and well preserved it was. Dating back to the Iron Age, the cobblestones had remained virtually unharmed since their creation in around 1200 BCE. But after residents started to complain of twisted ankles on the uneven ground, the country council did what no previous civilization has done. In 2015 they tore up the prehistoric path and slapped down some generic pavement. This destruction of a rare historical landmark would be less galling if the locals hadn’t immediately started whining about the replacement path. Yep. Complaining is the only thing that keeps Brits happy until the sweet release of death, the locals weren’t happy with new pavement. By July 2015, Dunster Council had to been another $120,000 tearing up the second path and lying a new one.
#5 – Chilean Geoglyphs
The Atecama Desert in Chile is home to more than 5,000 geoglyphs, huge prehistoric works of art carved into the ground of nearby hills. Built between 600 and 1500 CE, these imprssive creations are extremely delicate and require careful protection to be maintained. And what do you do when you have thousands of ancient art pieces that are extremely delicate and require careful protection? Drive all over of them like you’re in Mad Max of course. The Dakar Rally is an extreme off-road race for car and bike nuts. Traditionally held between Paris in France and Dakar in Senegal, terror threats in Africa have made that route too dangerous.
So, since 2009, the race has been held in South America, with a leg through Chile. Although safer, this move has its own troubles. Namely that it means thousands of motorbikes and cars ending up grinding tyre-first over antique artworks. Studies performed after 2012 race found that as many as 207 sites of historical significance were damaged. The damage was so severe that, in 2016 Chile refused to host the tournament for the first time. So south America’s geoglyphes are safe now, right? Well, actually…
#4 – Nazca Lines
In December 2014, 20 members of Greenpeace made headlines after trampling all over the Nazca Lines. Nazca Lines are a series of Peruvian geoglyphs, some upwards of 370 meters long and all dating to 500 BCE. There are several figures including the monkey, the spider and the weird trippy hand monster but the most famous is the hummingbird. Which is presumably why Greenpeace chose that one to start marching all over. Before the UN climate summit in Peru, Greenpeace snuck onto Nazca Lines and plastered a giant message on the ground. Their hope was to draw attention to the need for renewable energy. But what they actually did was irreparable damage to a World Heritage site. The soft ground is now marked with their footprints and even though the stickers has since been removed the outline of the letter c is still clearly visible. Experts believe Greenpeace’s damage will be visible for centuries to come. Needles to say, Peru’s government wasn’t pleased. They started pushing criminal charges on the activists and if they catch them will sentence involved members to 6 years in jail.
#3 – Ancient Chinese Tombs
In 2007, construction workers in Nanjing China were digging away when they stumbled across a series of ancient tombs under their buildings site. The 10 accidently discovered tombs were nearly 2,000 years old, and had decaying skeletons still inside them. Experts believe the high quality of the tombs’ decoration that they must have been the final resting places of a wealthy family from around 220 CE. Unfortunately, when you discover things with a bulldozer not much of that thing tends to survive. The tombs were partially underground, and the builders drove right over them. By the time they stopped, each tomb had either had its top shorn off or had collapsed completely. Local archeologists asked the builders to stop construction intil the crushed tombs could be properly excavated. That didn’t happen. The builders plowed on and the project was completely finished by 2008. So what building was so important that was worth plowing over hundreds of years of history? IKEA.
#2 – The senator
You don’t have to be the Lorax to know that when a tree is 3,500 years old, maybe it’s not the best place to start ripping deep hits of meth and playing with an open flame.
Big Tree Park in Longwood, Florida is a park full of big trees. The most famous of those big trees is “The Senator”, a 38 meter tall bald cypress tree. The biggest and the oldest tree of its kind in the world, it was also the 5th oldest tree in the world. That was until the tree met local meth addict Sarah Barnes. While hidden in a hole in the tree’s trunk, Barnes lost control of her lighter and accidently set fire to The Senator. Being in the middle of the park, the firemen had to use 250 meters of hoses just to reach the blaze. By the time the flames subsided, only 6 meters of the tree remained. Sara Barnes was arrested some days later. Although not until she bragged to her friends, testing “I can’t believe I just burned sown a tree older than Jesus”.
#1 – Everything ISIS Touches
If, for some reason, you still on the fence about ISIS, just know that they occasionally take a break from losing a war against the 21st century to commit petty acts of vandalism. That’s like the IRA stopping planting bombs to draw mustaches on the Mona Lisa. In January 2017, Iraqi army soldiers recaptured the 3,000 year old city of Nimrud, only to find that ISIS had bulldozed and exploded almost 4 square kilometers of ancient Assyrian buildings to the ground. In February 2015, ISIS also released a video in which they smashed up a museum in Mosul with sledgehammers. The reason for this destruction is that ISIS believe in Wahhabi-Salafist interpretation Islam that all false idols must be destroyed. As such ISIS are required to destroy any religious artwork that doesn’t fit with their exact world view. That’s unless they can sell them. You see, ISIS are more happy to drop their holy war against inanimate objects if they can make some money off them. Yes, strange as it may seem, these guys have an “antiques division”. They even made $2 billion through black market antique dealing in 2016. Apparently the only thing stronger than ideology is hypocrisy.