The main platform of La Esmeralda with the Volcán de
Guazapa in the distance.
One of Cihuatán' s closer satellite sites, La Esmeralda was
officially recorded by the late Stanley Boggs in January,
1975. He had found out about it because in 1971 Adán Barrios (now
deceased) , one of the old time coyotes (antiquities dealers) of El
Salvador let it be known that he had found a previously unlooted site.
Barrios decided to try his hand at looting and he and a friend
hired a large group of workmen and cut two cross trenches in the main
pyramid. They also dug holes in some other platforms, but the
giant trenches that wreck the main pyramid are still visible. Barrios
was disappointed, since he "only" retrieved two pieces of
Plumbate pottery, probably from a tomb in the pyramid.
Adan Barrios gave Stanley Boggs a bag of sherds which were later
reconstructed into a Guazapa Phase incensario.
Matilde Gil and a looters' cut at La Esmeralda.
La Esmeralda is located about 2 km. east of Guazapa on
the former Hacienda La Esmeralda. This has been broken up into small
land-holdings and the name of the hacienda is being forgotten by
local people, although it sticks to the site. The site is on the
lowest slopes of the Volcán de Guazapa and next to a
steep walled gully. La Esmeralda is within the jurisdiction of the
Pueblo de Guazapa and remains in private hands.
Although Boggs recorded the site as being rather
small -- about 3 ha. -- recent site survey by Paul Amaroli and Matilde Gil has
shown that it is much more extensive, perhaps as much as 18 to 20 ha.
in size. The site has at least 2 walled ceremonial compounds
similar to those of Cihuatán. The one which has been photographed
and mapped has a small pyramid and a series of lower platforms
inside the ceremonial precinct. A second group of ceremonial or
administrative platforms is located nearby, apparently
centered on a platform to the east of the better-known group. Also
noted are many house platforms, including a group of 5 about 120m to the
east of the monumental constructions. Abundant obsidian was
noted on the surface along with colonial ceramics and some historic
glass and cream ware. Paul Amaroli suggests that at least one of
the house platforms in this area (now under milpa) is 19th century.
Curating colonial ceramic botijas was common because of the
usefulness of these large, sturdy containers.
Sketch map of part of La Esmeralda.
Air photograph of the main ceremonial center taken
from a helicopter. The white specks in the lower left
are oxen plowing a field. Ox carts are still a major means of transport in rural El
Salvador. This one was encountered near La Esmeralda.
Most ceramics from La Esmeralda date the ceremonial and
most other construction as Guazapa Phase. Ceramics are scarce on
the surface -- a characteristic of all Guazapa Phase sites -- but
include Tohil Plumbate, Las Lajas Coarse, Nicoya polychrome, and
some other forms and wares characteristic of the Early Postclassic.
A Las Lajas Coarse figurine of unknown provenience depicting a male with a fancy
headdress and nose ornament seated on a bench.
Photographs and sketch map by Paul Amaroli
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