The New York-based World Monuments Fund (WMF) has announced more than US $1 million in funding to repair earthquake-related damage at the Monte Albán archaeological site in Oaxaca.
Restoration work will start in July on 15 structures that were affected by the powerful September 7 earthquake, including five with severe damage that required emergency structural support to prevent collapse.
Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), which has worked at the site since 1999, will also be involved in the project.
In a press release, the WMF said that its partnership with INAH would “address the long-term stability of Monte Albán, including physical conservation, documentation and geological assessment.”
It also said that “the program will also emphasize training and capacity building, giving local technicians the skills they need to effectively repair and prepare Monte Albán for future natural disasters.”
American Express, the Robert W. Wilson Charitable Fund and Mexican businessman Roberto Hernández Ramírez were among the donors who made the program possible.
WMF president and CEO Joshua David said that for more than 50 years the fund “has been helping people restore the buildings and places that define their values following natural disasters.”
“Now we have the opportunity to safeguard one of Mexico’s most important archaeological sites while empowering its community,” he added.
Founded in the sixth century BC, the ancient Zapotec metropolis overlooks the modern-day city of Oaxaca. The site’s impressive architectural remains include pyramids, terraces and canals that extend over 6.5 square kilometers.
Since 1987, Monte Albán has been a UNESCO World Heritage site and in 2008 it was included on the World Monuments Watch to highlight the various threats affecting it.
They have included erosion of hieroglyphic inscriptions due to exposure to the elements, looting, vandalism, unchecked tourism and forest fires. The WMF previously completed work at the site to prevent the further decay of the hieroglyphics.
Following the funding announcement, the Consul General of Mexico in New York said “the cultural sites that were damaged during this tragedy don’t belong only to the Mexican people; they belong to humankind.”
“Out of great loss and devastation, we have a chance to restore hope and optimism to the people of Oaxaca and those for whom Monte Albán is a source of great pride. We are grateful for the support to make it stronger and accessible for future generations,” Diego Gómez Pickering added.
The restoration project is expected to take about two years but the site will remain open to the public through its entire duration.
At least 1,200 historical buildings and monuments were damaged in last September’s earthquakes, which caused widespread devastation in central and southern Mexico.
Source: Notimex (sp)