Joya de Ceren, San Andres, Tazumal – El Salvador
Pompeii of the Americas
Continuing our tour in El Salvador, we spared today for doing what is known as the Maya Route. Although within the country there are many hundreds of known Maya places, the majority of them remain unexcavated, with only 8 sites out of 11 in total currently open to the public (as of January 2016). 3 of them are the ones offered in this route, which also are the best ones and unique not only to El Salvador but across the entire former Maya civilisation area. The good side is that all of them are within easy reach from the capital, hence another reason why to have your base in San Salvador would work perfectly as we did.
Joya de Ceren, nicknamed as the Mayan Pompeii or Pompeii of the Americas, is not for coincidence. The fate of this ancient city was the very same as that of the Roman city in Italy. The volcano next door once abruptly erupted and buried the city well deep in hot ash and pyroclastic flow, 10 layers to be precise, meaning the level of conservation is quite immaculate and to this date, the only one example of Maya city where one can see how the people really lived 1400 years ago, with their houses, their utensils, cultivated land and even food. That’s right, it was dinner time when the eruption occurred and while the people had enough time to flee for their lives, they left absolutely everything behind. A proper time capsule like no other that brought to live many of the unknown facts of the daily lives of the Maya. No corpse whatsoever have ever been found in the site, another indication that proves they could escape prior to the destruction.
Although it is known to be there at least 40 structures, only 10 have been entirely excavated and put on display at great care. The reason why they cannot continue excavations is that once open and exposed again to the air after that many hundreds of years, they cannot stop nor control them from deteriorating. Nevertheless, the ones you can see today are an amazing example to give you an idea. (more…)