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Is the Dakar Rally destroying the incredible geoglyphs of Chile?

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In the Chilean hills, you can find some of the most beautiful geoglyphs in the world — enormous drawings of animals and people, dozens of feet high, created by the neolithic peoples in this region thousands of years ago. But the annual Dakar Rally may be wrecking them.

According to El Mundo, the Association of Archaeologists in Chile protests the Dakar Rally every year, because the event takes vehicles and people all over the hills where the geoglyphs are. Motorcycles race across the hills without a track, and spectators gather and park wherever they can to get a look at the action. The archaeologists worry that footprints are disturbing the geoglyphs, which were created over centuries by people adding or removing colored rocks and sand. If the sand is moved around by tracks, it will destroy the outlines of these magnificent pieces of human history.


The archaeologists hope to put a stop to the Dakar Rally under a Chilean law that gives citizens the right to live in a pollution-free environment. In Chile, "cultural heritage" is defined as part of the environment — and this is exactly what the race is threatening.

Paola Gonzalez, vice president of the College of Archaeologists, told El Mundo:

The format of the rally, where riders have a logbook with directions but can travel wherever they want, makes it difficult to protect archaeological sites or sites of historical and cultural value. They leave a swarm of footprints in pristine areas such as the Atacama Desert. We are blind to the real magnitude of the destruction.


El Mundo adds:

Research carried out by the National Monuments Council (CMN) in December last year, reveals that at least 207 sites of archaeological and historical, were damaged in the wake of Dakar from 2009 to 2012.


Read more at El Mundo