Surging equinox crowds at Mexican ruins prompt officials to restrict access

In various parts of the world, governments have begun to restrict access to certain archeological sites. To avoid problems, INAH implemented its 2019 Spring Equinox Operative from 21 to 24 March…//

The archeological areas of Teotihuacán (State of Mexico), Chichén Itzá (Yucatán), Monte Albán (Oaxaca), Dzibilchaltún (Yucatán), Cuicuilco and Templo Mayor (Mexico City) are only a few of the spaces that have received an enormous number of visitors on the occasion of the spring equinox.

In some buildings, such as the Kukulcán Pyramid or the Castle, in the archeological area of Chichén Itzá, visitors are banned from stepping on the constructions. However, people are still allowed to climb pyramids in some archeological sites such as Teotihuacán, where more than 60 thousand people visited to receive the spring equinox, a similar number to the one registered in 2018.

In Chichén Itzá, around 14 thousand visitors were registered in 2017 and 2018. “In the past 10 years, some parts of Chichén Itzá have had to close down, specially the Castle (also known as the Kukulcán Pyramid), where there was even a chain that eroded the original steps. Though the chain was removed, it is not good for the archeological sites’ integrity to receive five thousand people a day,” said the director of the Chichén Itzá Archeological Site, Marco Antonio Santos.

Protection of historic sites

In various parts of the world, including Mexico, governments have begun to restrict access to certain areas of archeological sites. “Restrictions are a world trend related to the preservation of archeological monuments and the visitors’ safety, since accidents are likely to occur in some places due to climate conditions and such,” stated Marco Antonio Santos.

In that regard, Rogelio Rivero commented that at Teotihuacán an operative by members of municipal, state, and federal police, as well as staff from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) was in place to protect the site.

In the same vein, Leonardo López Luján, director of the Templo Mayor project in Mexico City, claimed that the sites had to be protected at all costs by avoiding any sort of activity for which the sites were not conceived, such as concerts, light and sound shows, food tastings, etc. Other measures proposed were a stricter regulation of mass tourism and new cults that have little to do with pre-Hispanic cultures.

The inflow of tourists during the spring equinox must be regulated, as well as tours within the premises, officials say.

There have been cases in recent years of people breaking the rules to access different parts of the archeological sites. Such is the case of the Danish photographer Andreas Hvid, who climbed the pyramid of Keops (Egypt) in 2018 along with Josephine Sarah, though access is forbidden. Another case was that of Hollywood star Glenn Close, who posted two pictures in her Instagram account of her hanging from one of the rocks of the Pyramid of the Sun, in Teotihuacán.

Text: El Universal

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