Progress has often trumped history in Mexico, where roads have regularly been pushed through ruins.
In Mexico City, the lava-buried remains of the ancient Cuicuilco culture, with its famed round pyramid, are crowded and partly covered by shopping malls, housing developments, a major freeway and even a college for archaeologists.
The Amecameca protesters have set up a camp to guard against construction work or looters and to explain the ruins to passers-by. They are asking the road be rerouted.
"The planned route wouldn't have to be changed that much," Lopez Reyes said.
Authorities have not yet commented on the demands, and the builders of the roadway, known as the Mexican Beltway, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. State and federal officials both declined to comment on the project.
INAH spokesman Arturo Mendez said that "in almost every project of this type, there are going to be discoveries" of pre-Hispanic material." Thousands of years of settlement have left potentially interesting relics scattered across the region.
The Institute normally sends in a rescue project to excavate, recover any significant items, carefully rebury the site for possible future exploration, and then allow the construction to continue.
That is basically what happened in the 1960s to Maya ruins known as "Tortuguero" in the southern state of Tabasco. It was split in half and largely covered by highway construction.
The site happened to hold a stone monolith or stella known as Monument Six, which contains one of only a couple of known references in Mayan glyphs to the date 2012, which some believe marks the end of the Mayan Long Count calendar and a possible apocalypse.
The inscription has become so famous that the Tabasco state government now uses it on advertisements to promote tourism, even though the stone fragment itself sits in a museum in the nearby city of Villahermosa and little is left of the ceremonial site where it was excavated.
The people of Amecameca say they want to prevent that from happening to them.
Maria de los Angeles Eusebio, 55, a retired anthropologist, is one of the local residents who have camped out for the last week to prevent construction machinery from going through. Equipped with tents, coffee "and lots and lots of blankets," residents are staying day and night, through wind, rain and cold, to ensure the remains of their ancestors' city aren't destroyed.
"We don't want them to just bury this and run the highway over the top of it," said Eusebio. "We want them to return the artifacts, so we can display them in a museum for the community."
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