Mexican authorities said Wednesday they have changed a controversial lighting project at the pre-Hispanic Teotihuacan pyramids to reduce its impact on the nearly 2,000-year-old structures.
The country's National Institute of Anthropology and History says lighting boxes will no longer be screwed into the stone that covers the pyramids, and will instead rest atop the structures. The boxes will be painted to resemble stone to lessen their visual impact.
Rigid aluminum conduits containing the power cables will also be replaced by flexible bundles that will blend in better and require less support.
A popular tourist site about an hour's drive north of Mexico City, the massive pyramids at Teotihuacan were built by a relatively little-known culture that reached its height between 100 B.C. and A.D. 750. Teotihuacan was abandoned by the time the Aztecs arrived in the area in the 1300s and gave it its current name.
The local government launched the project to create a nighttime light and sound show for tourists, and defended it by noting that similar displays function at other archaeological sites around the world.
But critics said the project damaged the stones, looked ugly and demeaned Teotihuacan's historical and religious significance.
The pyramids had eroded over time, and much of the stone facing that was drilled into to set up the lighting boxes is, in fact, restoration material put in place over the last century.
However, the institute said it modified the project to quell the criticism from legislators, local activists and some of the institute's own employees. Workers were ordered to fill in any holes previously drilled into the structures.
In 2004, a proposal by the Mexican subsidiary of U.S. retail giant Wal-Mart to open a discount store less than a mile from the pyramids sparked months of protests. The store opened later that year.