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Ancient Mexican Olmec stones damaged by ritual

January 13, 2009 |  8:48 am


Vandals have caused more than $20,000 (300,000 pesos) worth of damage to archaeological artifacts in the park and museum La Venta in Villahermosa, Tabasco.

Three people were arrested by police after they entered the park and performed religious rituals on a number of stones that date to Mexico's Olmec culture. According to Milenio, 23 pieces were damaged by the vandals who used salt, oil and grape juice on the stones, some of which are more than 3,200 years old. Television pictures show stains and erosion on some of the ancient pieces.

Restoration of the damaged artifacts is expected to take about four months, according to Norma Cárdenas, director of Tabasco's Cultural Institute. The park will remain closed to the public for the next few weeks.

The three people arrested will likely be charged with crimes that "damaged Mexico's natural heritage," Milenio said.

-- Deborah Bonello in Mexico City

Image: A replica of one of the stones that was damaged in Tabasco. The replica is in Mexico City's National Museum of Anthropology. Deborah Bonello / Los Angeles Times.