A truck driver was handed a steep fine after driving his vehicle off the highway — and onto the Nazca Lines, a 2,000-year-old archaeological wonder only visible from the air. Local media said he wanted to avoid a toll.
A 2,000-year-old ancient archaeological site in Peru was damaged over the weekend after a truck driver ignored warning signs and drove onto the site, leaving deep tire tracks.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994, the Nazca Lines consist of around 370 giant drawings of plants and animals in a 450-square-kilometer area that can be seen from the sky. Their provenance remains unclear.
Despite signs around the perimeter noting the area was a heritage site, a truck driver drove onto the site on Saturday, damaging three parallel lines drawn out over a 50-by-100-meter large area. After being arrested later that day, the truck driver said he had suffered a mechanical problem and pulled off the road in order to change a tire. His excuse was disputed in Spanish-language media, which noted that he was likely trying to avoid a toll.
Peru's Culture Ministry said that the site will be protected by drones in the future, dpa reported.
Read more: Nations to protect cultural heritage
It isn't the first time the Nazca Lines have been damaged. After a 2014 demonstration meant to draw attention to climate change irreparably damaged the lines, Austrian Greenpeace activist Wolfgang Sadik was slapped with a $200,000 (€160,700) fine and a suspended jail sentence.
The designation of a landmark by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site is aimed at preserving a place that is considered geographically, historically or culturally significant. Although the protected zones are legally protected by international treaties, it has proven difficult in some instances to prosecute those who damage the areas, as has been shown in the destruction of six recognized sites in Syria.
ct/cmb (dpa, afp, EFE)