November 3, 2015
Further Research at Ceren in El Salvador
The site of Ceren in El Salvador is the best preserved site in Latin America due to its being covered by volcanic ash in 660 CE. The preservation is so great, finger swipes on ceramic bowls and footprints in gardens, bean-filled pots, woven blankets have been found there. The villagers there had freedom in their architecture, crops, rituals, economics. 200 people lived there. 12 buildings have been excavated, including storehouses and workshops. No bodies have been found, perhaps because the villagers may have left at a precursor earthquake, before the volcanic eruption. The villagers traded crops and crafts for jade axes for tool use, polychrome pots, obsidian knives at a public market. There appears to have been a crop harvest festival ongoing when disaster struck. They probably fled on a raised sacbe. White Sacbes were only known in the Yucatan until the discovery of the one at Ceren. Researchers are studying the sacbe for the signs of the exodus south. It appears the sacbe was constructed in family work units supervised by elders. Some households maintained a wood supply for the sweat bath for the community sauna building. Lead archaeologist Payson Sheets found manioc fields at Ceren. The only place intensive manioc cultivation was ever found. It was used for tortillas, tamales, and alcoholic beverages.
The work has been funded by the University of Colorado at Boulder, National Geographic Society, the Smithsonian Institution, the Getty Conservation Institute and a number of universities.
The University of Colorado at Boulder has the news report here.
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