An ancient aqueduct at an archaeological site in Texcoco, México state, was damaged this week, triggering an investigation by municipal authorities.
Using heavy equipment, farmers from the town of Santa Catarina del Monte damaged part of the Caño Quebrado aqueduct at the site commonly known as Los Baños de Nezahualcóyotl (The Baths of Nezahualcóyotl).
According to a report by the news website La Silla Rota, the farmers wanted to build a new road between their town and agricultural land and were using a bulldozer when they inadvertently damaged the aqueduct, part of a complex hydraulic system.
The farmers hadn’t applied for a permit to build a road on the site formally known as Tetzcotzinco, and almost certainly wouldn’t have been granted authorization if they had.
The Texcoco government has launched an investigation into the events that led to the damage of the aqueduct, which was built while Nezahualcóyotl – known as the poet king – was the ruler of the city-state of Texcoco in the 15th century.
The local authorities said they have also filed a complaint with the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).
Luis Antonio Huitrón Santoyo, INAH’s México state delegate, and his technical team traveled to the archaeological site on Thursday to assess the damage. They were accompanied by the Texcoco government’s cultural, legal and police chiefs, who are part of a team in charge of the investigation.
Mayor Sandra Falcón Venegas said that local authorities will collaborate with INAH to repair the damage.
The Tetzcotzinco archaeological zone was once home to elaborate gardens established by Nezahualcóyotl, a philosopher, warrior, architect and poet who ruled Texcoco from 1429 to 1472.
The pre-Hispanic ruler, a military and political ally of the Mexica or Aztec people, used the site as a retreat and meditation place as well as a center for astronomical observation, according to INAH. Religious and socio-political rituals and celebrations also took place at the site, located about 40 kilometers northeast of Mexico City.
The Baños de Nezahualcóyotl site, which includes several stone structures and baths, is considered one of the most important archaeological zones in México state.