Photo: Aleksandar Todorovic/Shutterstock

"Thanks, but We're Already Famous."

by Julie Schwietert Oct 5, 2008

Tonight, the “world’s greatest tenor,” Placido Domingo, gave a concert at Chichen Itza, one of the seven wonders of the modern world.

But the show wasn’t music to everyone’s ears.

First, the selection of Chichen Itza as one of the new seven wonders, which occurred last year, has had the immediate effect of increasing daily visits to the Mayan pyramid to more than 12,000 people. Even before Domingo’s concert, archaeologists, anthropologists, locals, and activists had expressed concern about the imapct of thousands of people on the ancient ruins.

Second, critics were skeptical of concert organizers’, government officials’, and Domingo’s own assurances that “we have taken care of every detail to carry out this event” in a way that would protect the archaeological integrity of the pyramid and the grounds. One archaeologist even filed a criminal complaint against the organizers for degrading this sacred site.

Third, tickets for the event cost between $45 and $900. And this in a country where the average minimum wage is $4.50. A day.

Officials from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (NIAH) are reported to be resisting the pressure of local politicians, concert and event organizers, and filmmakers who want to appropriate historically valuable–and vulnerable–sites. Benito Taibo, spokesman for NIAH, was quoted by Mexico City’s English language daily, The News, as saying:

“We get calls from [organizers who] always say, ‘We will make your site famous….’ We answer, ‘Thanks, but it already is famous. Don’t do us any favors.'”

What’s your opinion? Should events like concerts be held on important historic sites such as Chichen Itza? Share your thoughts below.

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