Members of a Christian denomination reportedly have destroyed an ancient indigenous archaeological site in Mexico, claiming the rituals practiced there were intended to please the devil. In a brazen act of religious intolerance, a group of Jehovah’s Witnesses desecrated at least a dozen stone structures that served as altars at the 7,000-year-old sacred temple, Makonikha Sanctuary, in Hidalgo.
Makonikha Sanctuary is regarded highly by the region’s indigenous Otomi people, who continue to carry out their spiritual ceremonies there, but the Jehovah’s Witnesses in question said their actions stemmed from an understanding that the indigenous community worships the devil. The perpetrators said destroying the heritage site would mean that they have followed “the word of God”.
Even though local Otomi people complained about the desecration immediately after it took place, their concerns were largely ignored until a local academic, Luis Perez, recently reached out to the media. Perez, who has written several books on Otomi cosmology, even visited the accused Jehovah’s Witnesses in Los Pinales to investigate why they had acted in such a disrespectful manner. While the culprits admitted to having broken stone altars, defiled wall carvings and scattered left offerings all over the place, they denied any knowledge of a massive hole that was found drilled at the base of a pyramid at another nearby archaeological site, San Bartolo Tutopec.
“They wanted to justify what they did as a divine command in the name of Jehovah,” he said. “I told them that we didn't come here to speak about God, that we were here to see all the destruction and say that this is wrong.”
It is not clear how the vandals gained access to the sacred site, surrounded by a dense pine forest and protected by locals, who allow limited entry to only worshippers.
The age-old religion of the indigenous Otomi people holds sacred various deities, including earth, fire, wind and water and traditionally requires them to make offerings similar to pagan practices. According to anthropologists, Makonikha Sanctuary, for the Otomi people, whose territory spreads across at least eight modern-day states in Mexico, is comparable to what Mecca means to Muslims or the Vatican to Catholics across the world.
Photo Credits: Telesur TV