LIMA – An Inca-era ceremonial fountain and water channel at the archaeological site of Totorapaqcha in the southern city of Cuzco were capped with concrete, Peruvian authorities said.
The conduit, 17 centimeters (5 inches) wide, funneled underground water to a ledge from where it cascaded 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) into a ceremonial fountain, the Cuzco office of the Culture Ministry said.
The people responsible for the action used plastic pipe to redirect the water flow to irrigate nearby public gardens.
People in the area said the modification was carried out by the Cuzco municipality to stop residents using water from the fountain to wash their cars.
Specialists from the Culture Ministry said the water problem could have been solved without the commission of what they called a “serious attack of cultural damage that drastically changes the original purpose of the channel and the ceremonial stone fountain.”
The ministry has filed a criminal complaint with police and prosecutors.
Based on an initial evaluation of the damage, the ministry said the structures can be restored, but only after a careful analysis of how to remove the concrete and plastic pipe without doing further harm.
“We cannot be so incoherent to talk so much about defending our cultural heritage and at the same time commit these atrocities,” said Marco Marces, the ministry’s deputy director in Cuzco for Cultural Heritage.
Cuzco was the capital of the Inca Empire, which developed over the course of 400 years to include by the 16th century large swathes of present-day Peru, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia and Ecuador.