Having survived for 5,000 years, the oldest archeological site in the Americas is under threat from squatters claiming the coronavirus pandemic has left them with no other option but to occupy the sacred city.
The situation has become so bad that archeologist Ruth Shady, who discovered the Caral site in Peru, has been threatened with death if she doesn’t abandon investigating its treasures.
Archeologists said that squatter invasions and destruction began in March when the pandemic forced a nationwide lockdown.
Caral is situated in the valley of the Supe river some 182 kilometers (110 miles) north of the capital Lima and 20km from the Pacific Ocean to the west.
Developed between 3,000 and 1,800 BC in an arid desert, Caral is the cradle of civilization in the Americas.
Its people were contemporaries of Pharaonic Egypt and the great Mesopotamian civilizations.
It pre-dates the far better known Inca empire by 45 centuries.
None of that mattered to the squatters, though, who took advantage of the minimal police surveillance during 107 days of lockdown to take over 10 hectares of the Chupacigarro archeological site and plant avocados, fruit trees and lima beans.