THE WORLDPOST
06/22/2013 03:41 pm ET

Ancient Chinese Tombs Destroyed By Contractors During Subway Construction: Reports

Archaeologists in southern China were outraged last week after workers reportedly demolished a series of ancient tombs during construction on an underground subway line.

The imperial tombs -- aged between 2,000 and 3,000 years old -- were still being examined by researchers, according to the South China Morning Post. In fact, the area had been cordoned off by the Guangzhou Archaeology Research Centre.

"At least five of them were destroyed," archaeology technician Miao Hui said, according to the Post. "They date from the late Shang dynasty to the Warring States. This is not the first time the construction company has destroyed ancient tombs. The area they dug up was sealed by red lines. They even specifically moved our archaeological tools aside before blazing in."

There seemed to be confusion over whether crews were allowed to be working in the area of the tombs, China Daily notes. An official in charge of the construction project said work crews did not realize the tombs weren't slated to be bulldozed.

However, according to local media reports, the construction company was not given permission to work in the area.

Zhang Qianglu, an official with the Guangzhou Archaeological Institute, told China Daily that this was not the first time local crews had destroyed valuable research sites. In fact, the archaeologist said that several other tombs have recently been destroyed in the area despite their importance as "sources for the study of Guangzhou's lifestyle and culture in ancient dynasties."

News of the destruction upset some Guangzhou citizens who took to social media site likes to voice their complaints.

"Removing [the tombs] by mistake twice, whether you believe it or not, I don't believe it!" one wrote, according to Shangaiist.

The situation may remind some archaeologists of an equally frustrating incident in May, when a construction company destroyed one of Belize's largest Mayan pyramids during a road-building project.

"It's a feeling of Incredible disbelief because of the ignorance and the insensitivity ... they were using this for road fill," head of the Belize Institute of Archaeology Jaime Awe told the Associated Press. "It's like being punched in the stomach, it's just so horrendous."

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