• Lexi Ponder

Fire destroys ancient Peruvian temple and mural

On Nov. 12, 2017, an archaeological temple was destroyed by a fire over the span of a few hour. Located in the Lambayeque region of northern Peru, the torched temple contained a mural that was believed to be the oldest found in the Americas.

The 4,500-year-old temple of Ventarrón was discovered back in 2007 and contained various amounts of pottery and art. The mural that was found inside the temple was carbon dated back to 2,000 B.C., which was thousands of years before the Inca civilization, which later developed in that area. According to National Geographic, archaeologists claimed, “Vibrant yellow, red, blue pigments painted onto the mural’s blocks of river sediment depict a deer caught in a net.”

The director of the Ventarrón Archaeological Project, Ignacio Alva Meneses, says that not only have they lost the “cradle” of their culture but “five thousand years of history, the original temple,” and “the origin of the Northern Peru civilization.”

According to CNN, the fire is believed to have been caused by farmers working for the agribusiness company Pomalco who were trying to burn sugar cane fields near the temple. The fire then spread onto the roof of the temple, melting its plastic covers and casting thick, cloudy, black smoke over the ancient site.

According to Peru’s state media, Andina, the fire also damaged a collection of human remains found at the time of the discovery.