Psst — wanna buy a world-class petroglyph site?

Central America’s premier pre-Columbian petroglyph site is up for sale for a cool US$5 million, and this is not a good thing.

But it might not be a bad thing, either, depending on who you talk to.

Igualtepeque, an island on the edge of a major El Salvadoran lake, has religiously significant rock carvings that impressed Spanish invaders 500 years ago, as well as pyramids and other remains of an important ancient ceremonial site.

Its claimed, but not necessarily legal, owner is an iconoclastic local entrepreneur who bought it decades ago and thought he could help it garner the protected status and attract the infrastructure such a world-class site deserves.

But he was wrong.

Government agencies were content to offer him some advice, but not archaeologists to excavate or any support for preserving it.

Thus a critical piece of human heritage faces an uncertain future, with little clarity over who actually owns it or whether it can be legally bought and sold at all.

Meanwhile, as is frequently the case in the region, no real protection or control provided by the government means it is being progressively destroyed by artifact looting.

Source: El Faro (El Salvador)

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