Earlier Project News

Earl H. Lubensky† · May, 2009
Back to Work on the Acropolis and We Get Sheep! Plus: a New Park to be Developed · June-October 2008
Cihuatán is Inaugurated as an Archaeological Park · November 2007
Consolidation and Restoration at San Andrés plus a New Excavation · September 2006-August 2007
Repairs, Investigation and Activities at Joya de Cerén · August 2006-August 2007
Conservation and Improvements at Cihuatán · June 2006
Floods Don't Hinder Improvements at FUNDAR Sites · June 2006
Renovation of the Site House and a New Museum at Cihuatán · June-August 2007
The Municipio of Quezaltepeque and FUNDAR join forces to save Las Marías · August, 2006
And San Vicente follows suit · August, 2006
First El Salvador Archaeological Congress Held · October, 2005
Joya de Cerén Conservation Conference Held · August, 2005
News from the National Museum · August, 2005
FUNDAR Awarded the Management of San Andrés and Joya de Cerén · May-August, 2005
P-28: Excavating a Possible Wind God Temple at Cihuatán · June-December, 2004
We Discover a Burned Palace · April-June, 2004
Encore: P-28 · June, 2004
At Last, a Radiocarbon Date! · May, 2004
Work Begins Again at Carranza · April, 2004
Excavations at La Vega de Mangal · March, 2003
Exhibit on the Pipil of El Salvador · November, 2004
There's Always Something · June, 2004
More Work at Las Marías · March, 2004
Petroglyph Site in San José de Guayabal · February, 2004
New Discoveries at Cihuatán · March, 2003-October, 2004
Xipe Gets Washed and Ready to Go · October, 2003
There is Always a Lot of Work to Do · January-April, 2003
The Search for Xipe Totec, Part 2: Another Xipe! · December-April, 2002
Tlaloc 1, Archaeologists 0 · July, 2002
Update on the Search for Xipe Totec · January-May, 2002
The Search for Xipe Totec · July, 2001-March, 2002
Good News from Las Marías · 2001
Explorations in the Main Pyramid at Cihuatán · June, 2001
Excavation and Exploration at Las Marías · April-July, 2001
Return of Stolen Artifacts · June, 2000
Mesa Redonda · June, 2001
Cihuatán Suddenly Gets Very, Very Old! · December, 2000
Electrifying News! · May, 2000
Sites and More Sites · February-May, 2000
Agreement Finalized, New Officers · August, 1999
City Limits Survey · March, 1999
Here We Go · 1999
New Maps · 1996

EARL H. LUBENSKY
1921 - 2009

FUNDAR is sad to report the death of archaeologist Dr. Earl H. Lubensky on May 1, 2009. Dr. Lubensky served in the US Diplomatic Corps in El Salvador during the 1970s as Charge d'Affairs, then Councilor, then Deputy Chief of Mission. Earl had been stationed in Ecuador previously and had worked on the Ayalán and Anllulla cemetery sites near Guayaquil. He was anxious to become involved with archaeology in El Salvador. He met Dr. Stanley Boggs, who was then Director of Archaeology with the National Museum. Because there were several projects going on at Cihuatán at that time Dr. Boggs thought he could do a little digging there. So in 1978 and 1979 Earl and some colleagues from the US Embassy and some workmen excavated the small platform P-12, at the north end of the West Ballcourt and did a little clean up at platform P-20, which had been previously partly excavated. This excavation has now been published in a bilingual edition as Paper No. 22 of the Treganza Anthropology Museum at San Francisco State University The Excavation of Structures P-12 and P-20 at Cihuatán, El Salvador/ Excavación de las Estructuras P-12 y P20 de Cihuatán, El Salvador). Both platforms have now been restored.

Earl was also interested in archaeological protection and preservation. Karen Bruhns first met him in Dr. Bogg's office at the National Museum in San Salvador. She had published on the recovery of stolen Central American artifacts smuggled into the United States. A number of people in the diplomatic corps were buying and removing antiquities from El Salvador and Earl thought this was not a good idea at all. She explained to him the relevant legislation in the US and Stan explained the legal situation in El Salvador. Earl put together a policy that told the embassy folk to cut it out and made sure that some sanctions were in place for people whocontinued to collect and smuggle antiquities.

Earl left El Salvador in 1980, retiring to move back to Missouri and attend the University of Missouri at Columbia. Here he got his MA in 1983 and his PhD in 1991, writing his dissertation on a collection of Ecuadorian antiquities made early in the 20th century. He never returned to El Salvador although he kept in touch with his friends there, especially Stanley Boggs † and Karen Olsen Bruhns.

Earl Lubensky was 88 at the time of his death. He is survived by his third wife, Marian, and three sons.


Earl Lubensky (center) with Dr. Stanley Boggs, Head of Conservation Zuleyma Menendez and the large incensario from P-12 which Earl had excavated. Photo from the State Department Newsletter, January 1979.

P-12 has been cleared, consolidated and planted with grass as Stop No. 3 on the Interpretive Trail at Cihuatán. This picture was taken in February 2009.


 

More Work on the Acropolis

From mid-June until the rains made it too difficult and messy, we worked on the west side of the Acropolis. Karen can now live out at Cihuatán, which makes the work go smoother and means for full work days (and a cheerful Karen, who likes the county and spending quality time with the birds and other animals that inhabit Cihuatán).


Working in the rainy season means covering up the excavations every night.


A storm coming from the north means time to cover the excavations and leave. No one needs to be out in the open during a thunder storm.

A downpour as seen from the veranda of the field house.

We centered on an area on the west side that we thought might be a monumental staircase. However, it turned out to be a series of descending terraces, two, probably originally three (the former owner of this part of the site destroyed a lot with a bulldozer in the 1970s), leading down to what now looks like a plaza, but originally was filled with structures. One large platform, with a ceiba tree in the middle, survives on the south end of this plaza, otherwise, well, we planted it in grass so that it looks nice and will be easy for visitors to cross when the Acropolis is opened to the public.


Looking south from the West Terraces, we see the Volcán San Salvador in the far distance. The ceiba tree is growing on one of the surviving platforms between the Western Ceremonial Center (the trees on the right) and the Acropolis.

A long view of the excavations in progress with the nearly treeless Acropolis in the background. The small mounds on top are a series of platforms on a patio on top of the Acropolis. The form of the terraces is clearly visible.

We started clearing a large area on the structure and rapidly noted that, while the lowest part of the West Terraces (as we now call them) was nearly totally destroyed, the upper two were in relatively good shape. As we cleared in the middle of the lower surviving terrace, right next to where the upper one started, we began to come upon large pieces of broken incensarios and water jars. These were clustered at the foot of the terrace wall. Further investigation showed that they did not continue under the upper terrace, but had fallen off or been deposited right at the base of the wall, perhaps at the time of destruction of Cihuatán.


The base of the highest of the terraces with a concentration of incensarioand water jar sherds.

Some of the incensario sherds washed and drying in the lab. There are at least three biconical incensarios, one very large, one not so large and one miniature one.

Karen looks at a new concentration of pieces from the “offering”.


Pieces of a Marihua Red on Buff ladle incensario (sahumador). Although Marihua Red on Buff pottery has been attributed to the Pipíl, we now know that it is much earlier than the historic horizon.

The reason for the water jars was cleared up on July 3 when Arturo López Guardado, one of the workmen, uncovered a complete head effigy of Tlaloc, the Rain God. Although Tlaloc effigies of various sorts are common in El Salvador, few have been excavated. At last we have one that we can both precisely date and can associated with specific architecture and a specific type of ceremony.


A surprise find on the 3 of July,2008, when Arturo uncovered the google eyes of the deity figure we all took a look. Arthur is in the middle; while Carlos Flores and Karen look on.

Tlaloc's first look at the sky for a thousand years.

Tlaloc effigy in situ.


Karen admires Tlaloc after his bath.

 
. Front and profile of the Tlaloc effigy after cleaning. Tlaloc has now gone to the National Museum of Anthropology.

The upper terrace was paved with cobbles, perhaps the base for a well constructed clay floor. Towards the south end of the terraces, we began to uncover a volcanic tuff floor. This was the base for a small temple, now completely collapsed. The remains were undisturbed enough that we could see that the flat adobe and pole roof had collapsed complete. It had been adorned with large hollow almenas , ceramic roof edge ornaments of a type well known in Mexico. Inside the temple, we found human remains, perhaps someone killed in the destruction of the city or, more likely, someone going through the abandoned buildings or squatting there later on (there was debris buildup on the floor) who was killed when the roof suddenly collapsed, perhaps in an earthquake. There is evidence of earthquake destruction after abandonment in the Burned Palace.

  Pastor Gálvez points out the volcanic tuff (talpuja) paving and the remains of a stair and its banister (alfarda).
A human mandible and humerus were found with in the area of the small temple.


Taking vertical photographs of the excavations is easier when there is no wind.

Vertical view (stitched together) showing concentration of roof ornaments (almenas) where the roof of the small temple collapsed.

We Get Sheep!

In other news, in early July we got some sheep! These sheep have been very successful at San Andres, cutting the grass and multiplying and, well, lawnmowers do not like pyramids and sheep don’t care, grass is grass. So now Cihuatán has its very own, and fast growing, herd.

 
On July 9 the sheep arrived. Sheep do not like to go for rides


However, once the sheep discovered the huge expanse of grass for them to eat, they settled right in and got to work.

Carbon Dates

We have a new 14C date for the Acropolis at Cihuatán. The sample is carbon and is associated with the destruction of the Burned Palace. The 2 Sigma calibrated results are Ca AD 970 to 1020 (CAL BP 980 to 930) ). This accords well with the previous date we obtained, referring to the same event. Uncontaminated carbon or carbon at all is very difficult to obtain in these shallow archaeological deposits, where tropical deciduous forest covered the site for hundreds of years. We will continue to try to get samples with good context and to place Cihuatán back in its historic setting.

Thank you Beta Analytic.

A New Park to be Developed

Concultura, under the presidency of Lic. Federico Hernández has decided to go ahead with the development of the Ciudad Vieja as a national archaeological park. Work is now starting on the construction of an all weather access road. FUNDAR's plans for the initial phases of this park are simple: delineate a parking area, put in some picnic tables and add paths and abundant bilingual signage. Very little of this site dating from the moment of the Spanish conquest has been excavated and we are hoping for more sceintific investigation before more intensive development takes place.

The Ciudad Vieja is currently open for visits, but the access road is in very poor condition and there are no facilities at all. Not even a sign on the road. All this will change in the near future.


A large building which has been identified as the cabildo has been excavated at Ciudad Vieja.

Cihuatán is Inaugurated as an Archaeological Park

On November 17, 2007 Cihuatán was finally inaugurated as an official archaeological park. For the past several years FUNDAR has been working hard to raise funds and to install proper visitors’ facilities at Cihuatán and this work has finally come to fruition.

Cihuatán now has a site museum, the “Museo Antonio Sol,” named after the first archaeologist to excavate at Cihuatán. We would like to thank the Sol Meza family for their generous contributions in honor of their ancestor, contributions which made the museum possible. Because theft is an on-going concern at site museums throughout the world, the “Museo Antonio Sol” has no artifacts. Rather its bilingual texts discuss the site and its history, its ecology, the various projects undertaken there and, of course, what has been found out about the ancient city.


The renovated site house and the museum just before the inauguration. President of FUNDAR Rodrigo Brito and Karen Olsen Bruhns are in front.


The official opening of the Museo Antonio Sol. Rodrigo Brito discusses the exhibits with Antonio Sol’s grandchildren.

The first panel discusses Antonio Sol and his contributions to Salvadoran archaeology.

Rodrigo Brito, Carlos Payes, and a friend inside the museum just before it was officially opened.

The site house was completely renovated and remodeled and now contains the museum, a laboratory, and storage for materials excavated at Cihuatán and for the equipment used in excavation and in keeping the site up. A cistern was installed for water, as the cost of drilling a well through the stone Loma de Cihuatán was enormous. This cistern is filled by rain water in the winter and in summer can also be filled by water trucks. The cistern provides running water for modern toilet facilities and a sink and shower in the laboratory.

Picnic tables have been installed in a grove to the east of the house, where there is easy access to the bathrooms. Grills will shortly be added so that families can reheat their food or grill meat. A snack bar now occupies the completely redone storage building and offers bottled water and other drinks, simple snacks (chips and the like) and also serves to distribute the leaflets for the newly re-designed Interpretative Trail.


Karen Olsen Bruhns and Rodrigo Brito chat in the shade in the new picnic area at Cihuatán.

Raúl Garcia at the new access to the ruins. With a manned gate to enter and leave, guardians and security men have a better idea of who is where.

Parking has been moved from the West Terrace, where clumsy bus and truck drivers often backed into ancient structures, down to the west of the museum. New gates on the access road to the site ensure added security for the site and for the neighbors.


A panorama of the new parking area on inauguration day.

The Western Ceremonial Center and West Terrace are the parts of the site open to visitors. A new Interpretative Trail starts on the West Terrace, passes through the West Ball Court and by the small temple platform P-12 and then a stile leads visitors over the wall and the trail continues around the north end of the site and Structures P-1 and P-2 (larger temple platforms) and the restored North Ball Court. Exit from the North Ball Court is via a floating steel stair protecting the fragile stonework. A similar stair gives visitors access to the top of the main pyramid, P-7.


The third stop on the Interpretative Trail is a small temple platform that has now been cleared and consolidated. Grass will soon cover the dirt.


New signage asks visitors to please not climb the fragile platforms, in this case P-2 by the North Ball court.

This sign warns visitors to stay in the Western Ceremonial Center. The Acropolis is not open to visitors as yet and there really are a lot of snakes there.

San Andrés has benefited from the unending grazing of the ”Familia Cortagrama”. We are planning to bring some of the sheep to live at Cihuatán to help deal with keeping the grass short enough that visitors can see the ancient buildings.


The area between the Western Ceremonial Center and the Acropolis has been cleared of brush and grass and ground cover have been planted.

The inauguration was attended by officers and members of FUNDAR, members of CONCULTURA, the Minister of Tourism, the Sol Meza family, members of the diplomatic corps, and all the workers and their families. Employees from Joya de Cerén dressed in volcanera costumes made “Pupusas Mayas,” blue corn pupusas made with a traditional type of maize grown at Joya de Cerén. Speeches were made, the Aguilares marimba played, and everyone had a good time. More important is that now visitors to Cihuatán can count on the proper facilities to help them enjoy their day visiting one of the great archaeological sites of El Salvador.


Rodrigo Brito welcomes the visitors to the new Cihuatán archaeological park.

 
Lic. Federico Hernández, the President of CONCULTURA, also welcomes the visitors.

Lic. Rubén Rochi, the Minister of Tourism speaks at the inauguration.

Rubén Rochi, Federico Hernández, Rodrigo Brito, Héctor Ismael Sermeño, and Paúl Amaroli unveil the plaque thanking the people who made the Museum and tourist facilities possible. Photograph by Osmin Herrera, CONCULTURA. Read the text of the plaque.


Rodrigo Brito and Antonio Carrillo (the second in command at Cihuatán) pose with the volcaneras.

Pupusas Mayas were on the menu.

The traditional marimba was played by gentlemen from Aguilares, the town closest to Cihuatán.

Guests ate, listened to the music and toured the new park.


The United States Ambassador, Charles L. Glazer, Ricardo Sol Meza, and Gregorio Bello Suazo, Director of the National Museum of Anthropology.

The French Ambassador, Francis Roudiere.

The Brazilian Ambassador, Rodrigo Brito, and the American Ambassador.

Enrique Melara and his wife (Enrique is the soils engineer who has fixed the horrendous drainage problems at Joya de Cerén), Irma Flores,from the Department of Historic Sites and Monuments, CONCULTURA, and Ismael Sermeño, the Head of the Department of National Heritage.

Even the archaeologists were invited!


Paul Amaroli, Marlon Escamilla, Fabricio Valdivieso (then Head of the Department of Archaeology, CONCULTURA), Heriberto Erquicia, Gregorio Bello Suazo, and Shione Shibata (Department of Archaeology, CONCULTURA).

The Garcia family, the first guardians of Cihuatán. Don Dolores “Lolo” Garcia is in the middle and Doña Paula de Garcia is in the pink jacket. Their children and in-laws still in El Salvador came with them. Raúl (moustache) still works as a guardian for Cihuatán.

Consolidation and Restoration at San Andrés plus a New Excavation

 
A desperate guide tries to control 500 children on April 5, 2006 while 3000 more children try to push into the museum.
Work at San Andrés has been continuous since we took over the administration of the site two years ago. The worst of the problems we encountered were damage to the ruins themselves through weather and through uncontrolled tourist access. Among the most recent changes are fencing the area of ruins to restrict inappropriate and damaging use of them. We have also cleared the frontage and entry from the highway of debris and commercial signs and planted the area in grass and palm trees--everything is irrigated. The snack bar renovation and its adjacent tables and the moving of the ambulant vendors to an area adjacent to the snack bar is complete. We have just completed construction of separate sanitary facilities for visiting school children and for other visitors. So many children visit,--1500 or more on a visiting day--that we have had constant trouble keeping the bathrooms clean and repaired. We have also instituted a series of administrative changes. One of these changes was prompted by 3500 school children arriving all at once, unannounced, on April 5, 2006. We now require reservations for school visits (which are on Wednesdays, the free day for school children)so that visits can be staggered somewhat, giving the children and their teachers a better chance to see the site museum and ruins. This practice, universal in Europe and North America, was a first for El Salvador and it is working very well.

The interior patios of the site museum are being slowly replanted with native economic plants of the Maya. Here Dr. Rodrigo Brito, President of FUNDAR, shows off one of the new cacao bushes planted in the patios.

 
Structure 1, the main pyramid, sustained some damage in the heavy rains of 2005. Although there have been many complaints about the consolidation and reconstruction, which was done in concrete, the old consolidation lasted nearly 80 years! However, the heavy rains of the last several years have led to some new problems and so considerable time and effort has been devoted to repairing Structure 1 and some of the auxiliary buildings.

Structure 5, the Campana, had been damaged by visitors climbing up to the top. The heavy rains then turned their trails into deep gullies. These were filled in and consolidated with traditional (and effective) methods, of woven branches and earthen fill, as was an unfilled old excavation on the southwestern corner of the huge basal platform. The intrusive African savanna grass has been removed and the whole area planted in a low, shallow-rooted, ground cover.

 
The Campana before and after repairs.

The repairs going on.


Plan of the acropolis of San Andrés and of the location of the tunnel.
Finally, we began, with CONCULTURA support, a project to study the origins of San Andrés. Zachary Revene (who has now left us to pursue a career in ethnobotany) and Paul Amaroli directed the excavation of a tunnel which emerges from a pit left open from an excavation in the 1970s to the northwest, passes in front of structures 2, 3, and 4 and turns to go a short way in from of the structures called “The Chambers” (“Los Aposentos”). The purpose of this tunnel is to investigate the nature and plan of the earlier buildings at San Andrés. As the tunnel progresses (excavation had to be called off from June to early August) the early buildings at San Andrés are revealed.

  
The entrance to the tunnel had to be fenced off to prevent eager children and small animals from falling in and to protect the equipment and excavations. It is roofed against the rains. A small crane is needed to lift the excavated earth from the tunnel.

 
The tunnel is being supported with specially made steel scaffolding designed and constructed by Ingeniero Francisco Campos, who also made the stairs for the main pyramid at Cihuatán). We plan to have occasional guided tours through the tunnels when the excavation is done. Here Dr. Rodrigo Brito and Ing. Campos show off the scaffolding.

The tunnel with several superimposed floors and an area of adobe fill marked.

A dog ran across this piece of smooth mud flooring when it was still wet, over 1300 years ago!

Repairs, Investigation and Activities at Joya de Cerén

As at San Andrés, the work at Joya de Cerén has been unceasing. New signage, fences, and new entrances were constructed, fortunately in time to deal with the onslaught of visiting students.

We continue work renovating and replacing protective roofs and providing better facilities for tourists. A major undertaking has been planting crops the ancient Maya grew in the gardens. Many of these crops are no longer grown in El Salvador.

  
Left, cacao and malanga (Xanthosoma spp., also known as dasheen or coco yam -- North Americans grow a related species as a house plant) growing at Joya de Cerén. Center and right, purple maize and traditional species of beans grown at Joya de Cerén.

Thanks to Native American Seed Research in Tucson, Arizona, who gave us some teocinte seed, we also tried to grow this ancestral maize. However, the variety we had is a desert one and it evidently did not like the tropics, despite the loving care of Feliciano Torres, a traditional corn farmer who is in charge of the Maya plants gardens. The plants were spindly and, although they set seed, the seed did not sprout. We hope to be able to acquire some seed from the tropical species of teocinte and try again.

  

We decided to hold a pupusa party with the results of the first harvest. Sra. Leonarda Guardado (on the right), who runs the snack bar, coordinated the work and she and guide Merci, and another woman who works at Joya de Cerén made our first “pupusas mayas” out of the traditional purple maize, with fillings of cheese and of squash. We hope to have them on sale to the public next harvest.

 
Joya de Cerén now has a small gift shop for visitors. Among the souvenirs it it sells are replicas of the famous wheeled figurines from Cihuatán (now made in Chalchuapa, where there is a thriving industry in archaeological replicas).

We continue to repair and replace the protective roofs over the ruins and to improve lighting so that the ancient structures are protected but clearly visible. New paths and gardens also allow public access to parts of the site that were not open to most visitors before the FUNDAR administration.

  Left: The new panels let in light without damaging UV so that it is much easier to appreciate the ruined village. There are, however, lights for evening visits and dark days. Right: The domed indigenous sweat bath (temescal ) is now on view to visitors via a new path through the gardens.

Among the urgent repairs was the replacement of a support of one of the protective roofs. The support had been placed so close to the edge of the excavation that the corner was beginning to crumble. In order to extend the roof and put in a new support, we had to re-excavate a pit dug by Andrea Gerstle many years ago.

Zachary Revene and a workman at the side of the re-excavated unit. A tarp was rigged for protection from the sun.
Dirt being removed from the excavation. We did not have access to the original report on this excavation, so all work had to be done very carefully. In any event, no remains of any structure or artifact were found in the pit.

Conservation and Improvements at Cihuatán

Although we have been too busy for any major excavations during this past 8 months, we have done some work at Cihuatán, where a series of grants and gifts have made conservation of P-5, the “Templo de los Ídolos” and its adjacent sweat bath (temescal) possible. This structure, which is an integral part of the North Ball Court, was excavated and partially restored by Antonio Sol in 1929,. Over the past 77 years, the temescal refilled with inwash and the stairs have been damaged by people climbing the soft volcanic tuff steps. A small movable metal stair was installed and the building cleared and made ready for conservation. We are experimenting with various polymers which have been tested on archaeological adobe buildings at U.S. sites such as Chaco and will be using these to harden the adobe and tuff slabs while permitting them to “breathe.” This is essential because the humidity changes drastically with the seasons. The temescal was largely built with slabs of a very soft, easily eroded material known as talpuja and is not in good shape. A decision about whether to rebuild it will be made in the future.


The “Temple of the Idols” got its name from a series of rather strange looking felines excavated in a cache in the platform by Dr. Antonio Sol in 1929. Although all these cat statues have long since disappeared, we have found remains of others in our excavations at Cihuatán and other Guazapa Phase sites.

 
The "Temple of the Idols” has now been cleared and partly restored. The new metal stair is a great improvement over the shaky wooden one put up as a “quick fix” a couple of years ago. Wood only lasts a couple of years when fully exposed to Cihuatán's climate. Right, Rodrigo Brito shows how easy it is to climb to the top of the platform.


Long view of the excavations in the temescal.

 
A general view from the northwest (R). Clearing down to the floor we discovered cement, the remains of a previous attempt at restoration.

Thanks to the generosity of Ms. Donna Roginsky, the outgoing Public Affairs Officer at the US Embassy, we were able to install a “floating” metal stair on the back of the main pyramid P-7. P-7 was being destroyed by visitors climbing up its sides and breaking the fragile tuff facing. Now visitors can ascend a safe stair in hidden in the trees at the back of the pyramid. The stair was built to fit the specifics of the pyramid by Sr. Francisco Campos, who also made the moveable stairs for P-5. Thank you, Don Francisco and thank you, Donna. And congratulations on your new posting in Mexico City!


Sr. Campos and Dr. Brito on top of the pyramid.
Cihuatán's new pyramid access. The late Chepe Salguero, administrator of Cihuatán, is at the foot.
Pastor Gálvez, seen here excavating on the Acropolis in 2005, has taken over as the new administrator of Cihuatán.

Floods Don't Hinder Improvements at FUNDAR Sites

Most of FUNDAR's time and energy this past year has been taken up with improvements to the sites of Joya de Cerén, San Andrés, and Cihuatán. The situation was exacerbated by Hurricane Stan, which caused heavy rains with flooding and avalanches throughout southern Mexico and northern Central America.

San Andrés is located right by the río Sucio which overflowed its banks and flooded the 16th century indigo workshop next to the river. Although the park area got wet and the riverside grounds and the open air amphitheater flooded, other buildings and the ruins, which are on high platforms, were not harmed. Doubtless flooding has occurred in antiquity and the people who built San Andrés did not want to have to shovel out their plazas. Some areas of the reconstruction were done many years ago, when the technology for preserving and restoring earthen platforms was in its infancy.These had fortunately all been covered with heavy plastic well before the storms began. The indigo factory needed a extensive modifications to its roof, retaining walls, and suitable drainage and this has been done.

The río Sucio by San Andrés during the heavy rains caused by Hurricane Stan. It overflowed into the indigo factory. Zacharias and the workmen had a huge job cleaning out the indigo pools after the flood subsided.
  
  


We even have a nice bilingual sign which explains how the indigo workshop functioned and how indigo is made.

  
San Andrés is being conserved with a mixture of lime putty and mud, a mixture also being used at Tazumal. Here Zacharias Revene and a workman are pouring in quicklime ( brought in fresh from the lime kilns of Metapán) and mixing it with water, a traditional process knowns as apagar la cal. Useful lime putty results within a few weeks.


We have finished clearing the Great Plaza and its associated buildings, thanks to new chainsaws and a wood chipper. The chips are being used to cover the paths visitors take to see the ancient structures. The Campana structure was also completely cleared and the trails worn into its side by visitors were filled in.



The Great Plaza before and after.

  
People climbing the Campana had worn trails which then eroded. These have been filled.

The San Andrés park now has lighting around its periphery to discourage looters and other miscreants and flood lights on all entrances of the site museum. The ambulatory vendors have been moved to the paved patio where there is also a small café. This is near the bathrooms and eliminates trash and unsanitary conditions from the ruins area.

  
  

The ruins themselves have a new entrance, which is manned. Dogs, radios, picnics, and balls may not be brought into the main ruins area. There had been considerable damage to the structures through ball playing, and dogs and picnickers left a great deal of garbage. There are picnic areas in the shade behind the museum and a large, flat lawn for playing games at its side. San Andrés serves the public as a place for Sunday get-togethers as well as being an important Late Classic archaeological site. The monumental area is fenced with a turnstile gate that does not permit reentry (you can reenter, of course, but you have to go back through the guarded gate, so that you don't try to sneak your dog, etc. into the monumental zone). Finally, we have put in new, bilingual, signs at both sites. In the near future we hope to revamp the site museum and put in more informative, bilingual, texts and labels there as well.


Structure 9, the sweat bath (temescal) is now open to public view.

Joya de Cerén fared well in the bad weather. The river is too far away for it to have been in any danger from flooding. We did have some problems with horizontal seepage, but new drains and stepping the sides of the excavation to prevent damp-induced collapse were suggested by our consulting soils engineer, Sr. Enrique Melara.

We have also completed repair and replacement of roofs and their supports and replaced the hanging bits of cloth and plastic with large panels which filter the sun and protect the ruins while permitting visitors a better view of the excavated structures. New landscaping has also been started and new fencing of the excavations with guarded entries and a turnstile exit like that of San Andrés have been installed. Visitors are only permitted to enter in groups with a guide. Guided tours are available every 15 minutes and reservations can be made in advance for a group tour or one in a language other than Spanish (sorry we don't have any guides who speak Japanese or Chinese yet). Best of all, the excavation which contains the domed sweatbath has now been opened to the public.
Previously workers had tried to protect the ruins by hanging rags and sheets of plastic.
   The new panels are a great improvement. Structure 2 is clearly visible in the indirect light coming through the panels.

  
Sr. Rafael Amaya, the administrador of Joya de Cerén and San Andrés with two of the guides at the new entrance to the archaeological site.

  
The museum, picnic grounds, and parking area have also had improvements made and new bilingual signs have been installed at the entrance. Guide Merci shows off the new gate and sign.

Renovation of the Site House and a New Museum at Cihuatán

Work at Cihuatán has focused upon new installations for visitors (and workers). The site house has been completely renovated and a site museum is being installed. Work is almost finished and a formal inauguration is planned for the near future. FUNDAR would like to thank the family of Dr. Antonio Sol, first scientific excavator of Cihuatán, whose generous gift has made this work possible.

 
The original site house under reconstruction and the newly redone site house.
 
Left, installing insulation. The skylights will assure that the museum and laboratory will be lit by natural light as much as possible. Right, making and installing the window grills.

We have also been doing a lot of consolidation of excavated structures. A polymer highly recommended by the Chaco Canyon folks (who also have to deal with trying to preserve earth and stone structures) was used to consolidate the stairs of the Temple of the Idols.


The first application of the polymer to the Temple of the Idols.

A long view of applying polymer to this rather large structure. The walled “players’ patio” and the P-7 pyramid are in the background.

  
P-28, the circular structure found in March 2003 and excavated the following year, is also being consolidated. We also built up the unfinished circular wall. Paul points to the finished work.

Repairs, Investigation and Activities at Joya de Cerén

As at San Andrés, the work at Joya de Cerén has been unceasing. New signage, fences, and new entrances were constructed, fortunately in time to deal with the onslaught of visiting students.

We continue work renovating and replacing protective roofs and providing better facilities for tourists. A major undertaking has been planting crops the ancient Maya grew in the gardens. Many of these crops are no longer grown in El Salvador.

  
Left, cacao and malanga (Xanthosoma spp., also known as dasheen or coco yam -- North Americans grow a related species as a house plant) growing at Joya de Cerén. Center and right, purple maize and traditional species of beans grown at Joya de Cerén.

Thanks to Native American Seed Research in Tucson, Arizona, who gave us some teocinte seed, we also tried to grow this ancestral maize. However, the variety we had is a desert one and it evidently did not like the tropics, despite the loving care of Feliciano Torres, a traditional corn farmer who is in charge of the Maya plants gardens. The plants were spindly and, although they set seed, the seed did not sprout. We hope to be able to acquire some seed from the tropical species of teocinte and try again.

  

We decided to hold a pupusa party with the results of the first harvest. Sra. Leonarda Guardado (on the right), who runs the snack bar, coordinated the work and she and guide Merci, and another woman who works at Joya de Cerén made our first “pupusas mayas” out of the traditional purple maize, with fillings of cheese and of squash. We hope to have them on sale to the public next harvest.

 
Joya de Cerén now has a small gift shop for visitors. Among the souvenirs it it sells are replicas of the famous wheeled figurines from Cihuatán (now made in Chalchuapa, where there is a thriving industry in archaeological replicas).

We continue to repair and replace the protective roofs over the ruins and to improve lighting so that the ancient structures are protected but clearly visible. New paths and gardens also allow public access to parts of the site that were not open to most visitors before the FUNDAR administration.

  Left: The new panels let in light without damaging UV so that it is much easier to appreciate the ruined village. There are, however, lights for evening visits and dark days. Right: The domed indigenous sweat bath (temescal ) is now on view to visitors via a new path through the gardens.

Among the urgent repairs was the replacement of a support of one of the protective roofs. The support had been placed so close to the edge of the excavation that the corner was beginning to crumble. In order to extend the roof and put in a new support, we had to re-excavate a pit dug by Andrea Gerstle many years ago.

Zachary Revene and a workman at the side of the re-excavated unit. A tarp was rigged for protection from the sun.
Dirt being removed from the excavation. We did not have access to the original report on this excavation, so all work had to be done very carefully. In any event, no remains of any structure or artifact were found in the pit.

Conservation and Improvements at Cihuatán

Although we have been too busy for any major excavations during this past 8 months, we have done some work at Cihuatán, where a series of grants and gifts have made conservation of P-5, the “Templo de los Ídolos” and its adjacent sweat bath (temescal) possible. This structure, which is an integral part of the North Ball Court, was excavated and partially restored by Antonio Sol in 1929,. Over the past 77 years, the temescal refilled with inwash and the stairs have been damaged by people climbing the soft volcanic tuff steps. A small movable metal stair was installed and the building cleared and made ready for conservation. We are experimenting with various polymers which have been tested on archaeological adobe buildings at U.S. sites such as Chaco and will be using these to harden the adobe and tuff slabs while permitting them to “breathe.” This is essential because the humidity changes drastically with the seasons. The temescal was largely built with slabs of a very soft, easily eroded material known as talpuja and is not in good shape. A decision about whether to rebuild it will be made in the future.


The “Temple of the Idols” got its name from a series of rather strange looking felines excavated in a cache in the platform by Dr. Antonio Sol in 1929. Although all these cat statues have long since disappeared, we have found remains of others in our excavations at Cihuatán and other Guazapa Phase sites.

 
The "Temple of the Idols” has now been cleared and partly restored. The new metal stair is a great improvement over the shaky wooden one put up as a “quick fix” a couple of years ago. Wood only lasts a couple of years when fully exposed to Cihuatán's climate. Right, Rodrigo Brito shows how easy it is to climb to the top of the platform.


Long view of the excavations in the temescal.

 
A general view from the northwest (R). Clearing down to the floor we discovered cement, the remains of a previous attempt at restoration.

Thanks to the generosity of Ms. Donna Roginsky, the outgoing Public Affairs Officer at the US Embassy, we were able to install a “floating” metal stair on the back of the main pyramid P-7. P-7 was being destroyed by visitors climbing up its sides and breaking the fragile tuff facing. Now visitors can ascend a safe stair in hidden in the trees at the back of the pyramid. The stair was built to fit the specifics of the pyramid by Sr. Francisco Campos, who also made the moveable stairs for P-5. Thank you, Don Francisco and thank you, Donna. And congratulations on your new posting in Mexico City!


Sr. Campos and Dr. Brito on top of the pyramid.
Cihuatán's new pyramid access. The late Chepe Salguero, administrator of Cihuatán, is at the foot.
Pastor Gálvez, seen here excavating on the Acropolis in 2005, has taken over as the new administrator of Cihuatán.

Floods Don't Hinder Improvements at FUNDAR Sites

Most of FUNDAR's time and energy this past year has been taken up with improvements to the sites of Joya de Cerén, San Andrés, and Cihuatán. The situation was exacerbated by Hurricane Stan, which caused heavy rains with flooding and avalanches throughout southern Mexico and northern Central America.

San Andrés is located right by the río Sucio which overflowed its banks and flooded the 16th century indigo workshop next to the river. Although the park area got wet and the riverside grounds and the open air amphitheater flooded, other buildings and the ruins, which are on high platforms, were not harmed. Doubtless flooding has occurred in antiquity and the people who built San Andrés did not want to have to shovel out their plazas. Some areas of the reconstruction were done many years ago, when the technology for preserving and restoring earthen platforms was in its infancy.These had fortunately all been covered with heavy plastic well before the storms began. The indigo factory needed a extensive modifications to its roof, retaining walls, and suitable drainage and this has been done.

The río Sucio by San Andrés during the heavy rains caused by Hurricane Stan. It overflowed into the indigo factory. Zacharias and the workmen had a huge job cleaning out the indigo pools after the flood subsided.
  
  


We even have a nice bilingual sign which explains how the indigo workshop functioned and how indigo is made.

  
San Andrés is being conserved with a mixture of lime putty and mud, a mixture also being used at Tazumal. Here Zacharias Revene and a workman are pouring in quicklime ( brought in fresh from the lime kilns of Metapán) and mixing it with water, a traditional process knowns as apagar la cal. Useful lime putty results within a few weeks.


We have finished clearing the Great Plaza and its associated buildings, thanks to new chainsaws and a wood chipper. The chips are being used to cover the paths visitors take to see the ancient structures. The Campana structure was also completely cleared and the trails worn into its side by visitors were filled in.



The Great Plaza before and after.

  
People climbing the Campana had worn trails which then eroded. These have been filled.

The San Andrés park now has lighting around its periphery to discourage looters and other miscreants and flood lights on all entrances of the site museum. The ambulatory vendors have been moved to the paved patio where there is also a small café. This is near the bathrooms and eliminates trash and unsanitary conditions from the ruins area.

  
  

The ruins themselves have a new entrance, which is manned. Dogs, radios, picnics, and balls may not be brought into the main ruins area. There had been considerable damage to the structures through ball playing, and dogs and picnickers left a great deal of garbage. There are picnic areas in the shade behind the museum and a large, flat lawn for playing games at its side. San Andrés serves the public as a place for Sunday get-togethers as well as being an important Late Classic archaeological site. The monumental area is fenced with a turnstile gate that does not permit reentry (you can reenter, of course, but you have to go back through the guarded gate, so that you don't try to sneak your dog, etc. into the monumental zone). Finally, we have put in new, bilingual, signs at both sites. In the near future we hope to revamp the site museum and put in more informative, bilingual, texts and labels there as well.


Structure 9, the sweat bath (temescal) is now open to public view.

Joya de Cerén fared well in the bad weather. The river is too far away for it to have been in any danger from flooding. We did have some problems with horizontal seepage, but new drains and stepping the sides of the excavation to prevent damp-induced collapse were suggested by our consulting soils engineer, Sr. Enrique Melara.

We have also completed repair and replacement of roofs and their supports and replaced the hanging bits of cloth and plastic with large panels which filter the sun and protect the ruins while permitting visitors a better view of the excavated structures. New landscaping has also been started and new fencing of the excavations with guarded entries and a turnstile exit like that of San Andrés have been installed. Visitors are only permitted to enter in groups with a guide. Guided tours are available every 15 minutes and reservations can be made in advance for a group tour or one in a language other than Spanish (sorry we don't have any guides who speak Japanese or Chinese yet). Best of all, the excavation which contains the domed sweatbath has now been opened to the public.
Previously workers had tried to protect the ruins by hanging rags and sheets of plastic.
   The new panels are a great improvement. Structure 2 is clearly visible in the indirect light coming through the panels.

  
Sr. Rafael Amaya, the administrador of Joya de Cerén and San Andrés with two of the guides at the new entrance to the archaeological site.

  
The museum, picnic grounds, and parking area have also had improvements made and new bilingual signs have been installed at the entrance. Guide Merci shows off the new gate and sign.

The Municipality of Quezaltepeque Commits Itself to the Protection of Las Marias


Mayor Manuel Flores of Quezaltepeque presents his ideas concerning the preservation of Las Marías
 
Mr. Antonio Casquín, Cultural Director of Quezaltepeque, is also involved in the movement to preserve an important part of El Salvador's archaeological heritage.
The ancient city of Las Marias lies in a remote corner of the municipality of Quezaltepeque, itself a community of prehispanic origin. Quezaltepeque's new mayor, Manuel Flores, has taken the initiative of drafting a municipal ordinance for the protection of Las Marias, which will be the first such local law in El Salvador. His efforts will complement those of CONCULTURA and FUNDAR. A formal agreement between Quezaltepeque and CONCULTURA is planned in order to coordinate joint efforts to ensure the conservation of the site. Mayor Flores is also committed to improving basic services for the local population in the surroundings of Las Marias.

   
Paul Amaroli from FUNDAR talks about the prehistoric significance of Las Marís to a group of citizens of Quezaltepeque who are very interested in the campaign to preserve their past.

This air photo, taken in June, 2002, shows the monumental zone of Las Marías, with its walled plaza, ballcourt in the form of an I, and other groups of platforms. This is what remains of the center of the ancient city (dated to ca. A.D. 1000). Around this monumental zone is the large residential area of the “lost city”, the second prehistoric urban site to be discovered in El Salvador.

The Alcaldia of San Vicente Considers Similar Action

The important Classic period (ca. AD250-900) site of Tehuacan lies within the municipio of San Vicente in an area that was very strongly affected by the civil conflict of the 1980s. The hacienda where the site is located was destroyed early in the conflict and the site itself has suffered damage through farming, looting and the installation of a power tower in the site center. The government of San Vicente has made several studies of how to protect, the site with the eventual end of developing an archaeological park there. At the end of August, 2006, the asked FUNDAR to send Paul Amaroli to make a presentation concerning the site and its importance to the government. We all hope this will be a first major step to acquiring the site lands and protecting this important part of El Salvador's archaeological heritage.

First El Salvador Archaeological Congress Held


Karen Olsen Bruhns acted as guide for the Congress site tour. Here members of the Congress visit Joya de Cerén.
The Primer Congreso de Arqueología Centroamericana en El Salvador was held on October 26-28, 2005 at The Museo Nacional de Antropología ”Dr. David J. Guzmán." This meeting was sponsored by the Museo Nacional, Concultura, FUNDAR, and the Asociación de Amigos del Museo. Invited guests and attendees came from Europe, North America, Mexico, and all the Central American countries, although the invitees from Honduras could not make it at the last minute because of Hurricane Wilma. The theme of the Congress was “The Nahuas”. Karen Olsen Bruhns presented a paper “La Fase Guazapa: ¿Antecesores de los Pipiles?" and also participated in the round table discussion “Language and Culture of the Pipiles.” Lic. Paul Amaroli gave the evening talk on the first day “Interpretaciones del Xipe Tótec.” On the Saturday after the official papers were over participants of the Congress visited the sites of Joya de Cerén and Cihuatán and had lunch and sightseeing in the beautiful colonial town of Suchitoto.

Joya de Cerén Conservation Conference Held

On August 26 and 27th a workshop was held to arrive at a consensus concerning conservation measures to be undertaken at Joya de Cerén. For the past 15 years, the policy of CONCULTURA has been to seek adequate conservation methods for the exposed structures before undertaking further excavation. Now CONCULTURA and FUNDAR are actively seeking input from national and international authorities in the conservation of earth architecture to preserve this unique site.

Present at the meeting were:

Lic. Federico Hernández, President of CONCULTURA Lic. Héctor Ismael Sermeño, National Director of Cultural Heritage, CONCULTURA Lic. Gregorio Bello Suazo, Director, “Dr. David. J. Guzmán” National Museum of Anthropology, CONCULTURA Arq. Irma Flores, Coordinator of Historic Zones and Monuments, CONCULTURA Lic. Fabricio Valdivieso, Chief of the Department of Archaeology, CONCULTURA Dr. Rodrigo Brito, President of FUNDAR Lic. Paul Amaroli, Archaeologist, FUNDAR Lic. Fabio Esteban Amador, Archaeologist, National University of El Salvador Arq. Victor Sandoval, Restoration Architect, Guatemala Ing. Enrique Melara, Civil Engineer, Specialist in Soils Arq. Françoise Descamps, Getty Conservation Institute Licda. Carolina Castellanos, Getty Conservation Institute

The 2-day meeting included a visit to Joya de Cerén to evaluate the situation as well as inspection of the diagnostic done by FUNDAR at the time of the change of administration.

The conclusions of this meeting are to be presented during September, 2005 and are to focus on priority measures for the conservation of this World Heritage site.

Viewing the damage to Joya de Cerén. Left to right: Federico Hernández, Enrique Melara, Fabricio Valdivieso, Gregorio Bello Suazo, Rodrigo Brito, Fabio Amador, Françoise Descamps, Irma Flores, Carolina Castellanos and Victor Sandoval.

Viewing Structure 4 at Joya de Cerén. Left to right: Carolina Castellanos, Françoise Decamps, Fabio Amador, Federico Hernández.

News from the National Museum

U.S. Ambassador Douglas Barclay hands the check to Director Bello.

Lic. Gregorio Bello Suazo, Director of the Museo Nacional "Dr. David J. Guzmán." has been awarded an Ambassador’s Fund grant for improvements in curation, including some air conditioning in enclosed galleries and new exhibit stands. Also planned is purchase of equipment, computers, digital cameras, etc., to record the collections and make them available on the WWW. Congratulations, Lic. Bello!

Progress has been made on the conservation of the Carranza Xipe Totec statues and on the Jaguar-Warrior found in the Carranza offering pit. Because the Xipe statues were fragmentary and made of thick, low fired, clay, it has been necessary to put consolidant on the pieces, one at a time, before joining them and re-enforcing the interiors and the crumbling edges of the sherds, with plaster.

Xipe # 2 is now reconstructed up to his waist. These Xipes, like most of the authentic ones was made in 3 pieces, fired separated and joined for display. It is worth noting that the art world, private collections and private and public museums, are flooded with fake Xipe Totec statues in both ceramic and stone. Our Xipes, found where they were left in antiquity, are real and are valuable in that we have their complete context. The conservation team, from left to right, are Carolina Cáceres, Maribel Carpio de Sanabria, Beatriz Castillo Marroquín, and the Chief Conservator, Leticia Escobar.

   

The Jaguar Warrior, a unique piece depicting a very rounded feline with a warrior’s face coming out of his mouth, has been conserved by Carolina Cáceres. Here she shows off her hard work. The plaster re-enforcement and repairs to all statues will be painted before the pieces are put on exhibit.

FUNDAR Awarded the Management of San Andrés and Joya de Cerén

Because of their success in managing the Cihuatá archaeological park , with the dissolving of NGO in charge of these two important Late Classic Maya sites, Lic. Federico Hernandez, President of CONCULTURA, asked FUNDAR to take over their management. The formal takeover was May 2, 2005 and since then we have been busy with inventories (necessary when you take over management of the site museums and other facilities), assessment of the condition of the ancient sites, and much needed equipment updates and repairs.

Both museums lack modern security measures, which have been installed now in Joya de Cerén and are being installed currently at San Andrés. Modernizing the San Andrés exhibits will follow as will opening the Great Plaza and the pyramid/platform structure from which the site took its old name of Campana San Andrés to the public. Revamped picnic and recreational facilities are planned for the near future as is fencing the site proper to prevent animals, people with boom boxes, food, or soccer equipment from entering (these activities have annoyed many visitors as well as being damaging to the fragile structures). Security for visitors is also being improved, with underbrush clearing and increased security patrols.

   

Structure 1 San Andrés during the October 1940 excavations and the same building today.

The Campana pyramid and platform (Structure 5) as seen from the Acropolis in 1975, when most of the site was still under sugar cane. Unwise reforestation has damaged structures and given cover to thieves at the site. Clearing of non-native trees and a general opening up of the park area is underway.

Damage to the Campana structure by un-filled excavation units. FUNDAR plans to stabilize a number of structures simply by filling in trenches and pits that have left the fragile buildings exposed to the elements.

Dr. Rodrigo Brito, President of FUNDAR, riding the new lawnmower that will make it easier to keep San Andrés clear. A mechanized brush cutter has also been purchased for the site.

Improvements to Joya de Cerén include repairing and replacing the roofs which were failing to protect the structures, screening the roofed structures to keep out the burrowing birds, reptiles, and insects which were damaging the ancient buildings, and improvements to public facilities at the site. Previous "conservation" measures, which included daily sweeping of the ancient walls with twig brooms and hosing them down, have been stopped. An international conservation workshop will be held this month at Joya de Cerén to discuss both the Getty Conservation Institute’s studies and to work out a feasible conservation and management plan for this ancient Maya village so luckily preserved, like Pompeii, by a volcanic eruption.

Joya de Cerén...the structures were roofed and enclosed in wire in the 1990s. However, the roofs have not been kept in repair and the structures are suffering from inept maintenance, as well as from rain, water seepage, and invading animals.

View from inside the roofed excavations showing around kitchen structure, some other excavated buildings and rags hanging on the wire enclosure in an attempt to protect the structures from water and sun.

July 14, 2005, a water-damaged column on Structure 10.

The wire may keep out tourists, but it does not keep out burrowing birds and insects. Here is a torola (Momotus momota) bird’s nest excavated into the site of Structure 10.

P-28: Excavating a Possible Wind God Temple at Cihuatán

From June through December (with a hiatus for the wettest part of the rainy season) we excavated the round platform we had discovered in the high grass and brush in the southern part of the Western Ceremonial Center at Cihuatán in 2003. P-28 is located near one of the two known original entrances to the walled enclosure of the ceremonial center and its main entrance faces the main pyramid P-7, although it is not in close alignment. The central position of this unusual platform signals its importance to activities in the Western Ceremonial Center.

The Western Ceremonial Center of Cihuatán with P-28. The central location of this small circular platform is very clear from the map. It is roughly oriented towards the front stair of P-7, the main pyramid, and is close to both of the original entries to the walled ceremonial precinct. One of these is labeled, the other is a stair which ascends the wall exterior by P-23, a platform which may have functioned as a guard house. Upon clearing P-28 we could clearly see its circular shape and that it had been meant to have two stages. As we cleared and began the excavations it also became clear that this structure was not finished, although it, like all excavated structures known at Cihuatán, had been burned and abandoned.

P-28 cleared of some of its vegetation and ready to be explored.

The rains were not yet very heavy, so we began the investigations of P-28 in July, 2004. Here Feliciano (Chano) Torres clears the loose paving blocks which workmen over the years have picked up in the plaza and dumped in a pile on P-28 (this particular damage began only after lawnmowers were introduced to Cihuatán).

July 19, 2004. Pastor Gálvez and Chano lay out the first unit on top of P-28 while Karen takes notes. We decided to begin with a single unit on top of the platform.

Beginning the excavation. Karen and Chano watch while Pastor carefully picks the loose rock of the top of P-28

Pastor working on the first unit.

We soon discovered that P-28 had received the attention of a man who looted around Cihuatán in the 1960s. Here the looter's pit begins to appear, much to our dismay (we had hoped we would be the first to excavate and that there might have been an offering).

A vertical photograph of the cleared out looter's pit. It was raining at night and the water table was high; water oozing into the pit made a muddy puddle.

When you are working in the middle of a national park which has more than a thousand visitors a month, you must deal with public interest and care for the general security of the excavation. Paul had P-28 surrounded with yellow caution tape at a safe (for us) distance from the platform and then put up a bilingual sign explaining what was going on. We would like to thank the many, many people who came over to see the excavation and who neither interrupted our work nor entered the closed off area and messed with the excavation.

P-28 was constructed of uncut and roughly shaped stones set upon a pavement of small pumice cobbles. The large square lava blocks which form the paving of the ceremonial center are also placed upon this pumice pavement, although we do not yet know how far out either the lava paving or the pumice substructure extend. Several of the platforms within the ceremonial center are paved for only 2-3m around them, whereas in other areas there is evidence of large areas having been paved with the black lava. The pumice sub-flooring is highly unusual and had not been noted elsewhere in the site, although pumice cobbles used as a facing are known in many Guazapa Phase buildings. The structure itself was built by constructing two semicircular walls. The first and second steps were constructed outside these walls and the interior was filled with stones, dirt, and a little "modern" trash, including some pieces of domestic pottery, a sherd of Tohil plumbate pottery, and some obsidian tool fragments. There was very little midden within the fill compared to that associated with other structures at Cihuatán.

The structure's main entrance was apparently to be constructed upon a wide sloping fan-like element extending northeast from the height of the first stage a distance of almost 4m. The entrance itself is 2.38 m wide at the top. A second entrance to the structure, a simple opening in the wall the same width as the top of the fan, is directly across from the fan. We suspect that the fan was the base for projecting stairs with a wide balustrade. These are seen on other circular platforms in Mesoamerica at this time and may well have been a new and fashionable feature for Cihuatán

This photograph, taken when P-28 was half cleared, shows the curve of the basal platform. P-28 would have had three stages when completed.

P-28 was constructed by building the circle of the first stage, which then also served as a foundation for the exterior of the second stage. Inside two semi-circular walls had been constructed to hold the fill of the platform. This view is inside the walls and shows the back entrance to the platform.

The fill of the P-28 platform was unmodified rocks and earth. Some of the rocks were extremely large and took 2 or 3 men to move them. Here Chano and pastor move several of these large rocks out of the way.

The July investigations at P-28 told us what we would need to do for a full excavation. Consequently, we ceased after the test unit(s) and resumed excavation in November 2004 under Paul Amaroli's direction. Although the garrobo whose pursuit had led to some fairly major destruction of P-28 on the north side was long gone, we disturbed this handsome fellow, whose home was in the tumbled wall. Paul carefully relocated him to another suitable property nearby.

P-28 was constructed upon a preexisting floor made of pumice cobbles set close together. Pumice does not occur on the Cihuatán ridge, but we do not know yet exactly where the builders got it. Here is a detail showing the pumice flooring and the black lava block pavement of the plaza over it. No other building excavated in the Western Ceremonial Center seems to have this pumice sub-flooring. A series of tests showed the pumice extends at least 15 m. to the west.

Exposing the pumice sub flooring. Here the unit around the looter's pit (on the left with a pick sitting on it) was cleared to show us that the platform was built on a pre-existing pumice pavement.

An almena from the fill of P-28's. P-28 had much less artifactual material associated with it than did most other excavated structures at Cihuatán. Perhaps this is because it was not finished when the city was burned and so was never really in use. Most of what we found looks like workmen's trash or material swept up in cleaning the plaza around the platform. The workers apparently used the fill area of the platform as a convenient waste basket. Almenas are solid fired clay objects which are apparent T-shaped or cruciform. They are decorated with a brushed surface and/or a deep channel around their borders. Their function is not really known.

A piece of Tohil plumbate pottery from the P-28 fill tells us that this structure, like all the others at Cihuatán, was built during the Early Postclassic.

A piece of the leg of a ceramic feline and a fragment of muscovite from the P-28 fill. Muscovite occurs in the Acelhuate River. We found a muscovite ornament workshop at Carranza, just to the south of Cihuatán. Large ceramic feline statues have been found at Cihuatán and other Guazapa Phase sites. Unfortunately all whole examples have either disappeared (like the 20 felines Antonio Sol found in the little platform associated with the North Ball Court in 1929) or were looted and are hence without any real provenience.

December 17, 2004 was the final day of excavation at P-28. This view from the northeast shows the excavated platform with its wide fan-shaped entrance, perhaps the foundation for a projecting stair with balustrades which was never begun. Owing to the violent end of Cihuatán through an immense conflagration and, apparently some sort of military action (obsidian projectile points are common finds in the burned buildings), Structure P-28 was left a little more than half finished. We plan to consolidate the structure, filling in the excavation units with the original fill with some cement added. P-28 will be kept clear for visitors from now on.

Burned earth from the P-28. Like the rest of Cihuatán, P-28 was destroyed by burning. The conflagration was sufficiently hot to fire the clay of the fill several cm. deep (the red layer). Calcined bone was found associated with P-28.

 
 

P-28 was going to be a 3 stage platform. The shot above left shows the back (west) entrance. P-7 is visible in the background above the trees. Above right: A vertical shot of Chano doing final cleaning for photographs. Lower left: The last day of excavations. Chano and Oscar Mina Chaverría do the final clean up for photographs. In this view from the north you can clearly see the large trench cut by garrobo (iguana) hunters trying to get the lizard out to take him home for dinner.Lower right: Anotherl view of P-28 from the northwest as the excavation nears its end. This shows clearly the circular platform with its large fan shaped entrance foundation on the east and a second entrance to the platform-perhaps a inset stair-on the west.

Because P-28 was not finished we do not know if there was to be a temple on top or if the circular platform with its two entrances was to be the final product.

At the time of the Spanish invasions round temples were often dedicated to Quetzalcoatl-Ehécatl, the God of Wind. This picture of Ehécatl, (left) with his characteristic buccal mask, is from page 19 of the Borgia Codex , a precolumbian religious manuscript from central Mexico. However, if the platform was not to have a temple on it, it may have been intended as an installation for the gladiatorial sacrifice. This sacrifice was, in the late prehistoric period, often associated with the worship of Xipe Totec, Our Lord the Flayed One, a deity of political intimidation. Statues of Xipe Totec are relatively common in western El Salvador at this time. This painting of Xipe Totec (right), who is always shown as a living male wearing the inside out flayed skin of the sacrificial victim, is from page 25 of the Borgia Codex.

From the Codex Magliabecchiano, a colonial document, comes this illustration of the gladiatorial sacrifice. The victim, a captured warrior, is tied to a central stone and armed with cotton (or paper) weapons. One of the most important warriors of the capturing side would then fight with the victim, armed with genuine weapons. Here a Jaguar Knight, in the fancy cat suit costume of his order, is the victim's adversary. Note how the obsidian blades of the Jaguar Knight's club sword (macahuitl)are hidden with cotton balls. The victims club sword only has the cotton balls, not the deadly sharp blades. Once the victim was wounded, he would be taken to the temple and sacrificed by removing his heart. Then his skin was flayed from his body, a priest of Xipe donned it and danced and parade through the streets with his rattle staff. The Xipe Totec from the Borgia Codex above has a characteristic rattle staff.

Bernardino de Sahagún, the great chronicler of Aztec culture, had this illustration of the Feast of the Flaying of Men (Tlacaxipehualiztli) drawn to accompany his discussion of the ritual in his Primeros Memoriales. In the upper right is the white painted victim with his paper club and shield, this time fighting an Eagle Knight, a Jaguar Knight, and a Coyote Knight all at once, while musicians blow on trumpets and conch shells and a priest tends to his business. Note the tzompantli, or skull rack, upon which the heads of sacrificial victims were displayed. In the upper center the victim is sacrificed and his heart removed and in the upper left he is splayed out like a deer and his skin flayed off his body. At the bottom of the picture a Xipime (Xipe impersonator) parades with his attendants.

We Discover a Burned Palace

This past dry season Paul Amaroli and Vladimir Avila continued mapping on the Acropolis, the huge ceremonial area just to the east of the Western Ceremonial Center at Cihuatán. This area is very little known. Charles Cecil and Karen Bruhns made a partial map -- partial because they were working in the rainy season and the vegetation covered everything but the largest structures -- in the late 1970s. In 1996 Concultura commissioned a high tech map of the two ceremonial centers from APSIS, but the data were lost and only a partial paper version remains, so we thought it might be a good idea to find out what exactly was on and around the Eastern Ceremonial Center. No excavation has been done there since Stanley Boggs excavated a small structure covered with a sherd dump in the 1960s. This excavation was never completely published and the notes, photographs and the excavated materials themselves have been lost, so there are a lot of very real questions about the nature of this area of monumental architecture. Along with the mapping, thanks to the Salvadoran Armed Forces, Paul and Vlad had the opportunity to take several helicopter flights over the area in the dry season and take photographs at the time of year when there is the least plant cover in the way.

Helicopter photograph of the Acropolis in April 2004. The monumental stair is visible on the left of the terraced hill with the palace directly to the right of it covering the upper part of the open area. Local inhabitants have denuded the Acropolis for firewood, leaving a fringe of trees on the west and north to conceal their depredations.

From these pictures and ground reconnaissance, it became evident that the Acropolis is a large natural hill which has been modified into an immense terraced platform with a large number of buildings on it (we still aren't sure quite how many as we haven't finished mapping). One of the structures on the Acropolis, located directly adjacent to the 30+m wide stairway that formed the main entrance to the area, is a large (33 x 24 m.) hollow rectangle. This is, so far, a unique structure at Cihuatán. Religious buildings are generally placed on stepped platforms and are small one or two roomed structures. Ordinary houses at Cihuatán are also on platforms, but on very low ones or they are placed on terraces. These houses are rectangular too, but are relatively small. A hollow rectangle does not look at all like either a religious structure or an ordinary house, but does resemble drawings of Aztec palaces made in the early colonial period . So in June 2004 we decided to do a test excavation to see if it was a palace and also to see if, like other buildings at Cihuatán, it had been burned. Excavations in unplowed areas of the site had showed us that the people at Cihuatán had probably grabbed the kids and the turkey and fled, never to return, leaving their belongings in place where they had been using them. If this was the case with the palace, we would have a unique opportunity to look at royal life in the 11th century AD.

Contour map of the palace area. The contours look sort of like a skull or, perhaps, a masked wrestler face so Karen decided we should call the palace Mictlantecpan ("the palace of death"), as Lucha Libre Tecpan is not very elegant ("tecpan" is the Nahuatl word for palace). We can't call it Cihuatecpan, because there already is one, an Aztec palace, nicely excavated by Susan Toby Evans, who has published a number of interesting articles about it.

We decided to put a 4x4m test pit in the interior southeast corner of the structure. Documents from central Mexico (admittedly 500 years later than Cihuatán) said that the royal family lived as far as possible from the entry and the public rooms. On the ground it looked like there had been entrances to an apparent central patio on the north and southwest corners. The eastern mound of the rectangle was also noticeably higher than the others and in ancient Mesoamerica the height of the building and the importance of its inhabitants were intimately connected (which is why temples are on the highest platforms of all!). We felt that an excavation in this area could tell us about construction, preservation, and might well give us some clues as to who lived in this palace, if it was, indeed, a palace. We did not want to start a major excavation in the rainy season because of weather and because we are going to need to seek funding for a project of this size.

 

Cutting back the underbrush. June is early in the rainy season and the plants are growing extremely vigorously. Right, Pastor pounds in the first stake of Unit 1.

 

Karen and Vladimir loaf around while waiting to map in the exact location of the test excavation. On the right: all excavated dirt was screened. Here Karen and Oscar worry about something in the screen.

  

The guards at Cihuatán are now patrolling the Acropolis regularly to protect the buildings from firewood collectors and from further damage by local hunters, who often tunnel into the ancient structures looking for iguanas or armadillos for dinner. The photograph in the center is of a recent hole dug into a large structure to the east of where we were excavating. Right: Rodrigo Brito bought us a garden canopy in Miami. It made work in the heat much easier. Thank you, Dr. Brito!

The entire area of the palace was littered with architectural debris of a kind which indicated that there had been some very fancy buildings in the area. So when we opened up the unit and began to clear away the dirt, we were not surprised to find that the structure was, indeed, some of the most elaborate construction known at Cihuatán. We really were not that surprised to find that it had been burned either.

  At the very beginning of the excavation we noted that the stone slabs had all fallen with their upper ends to the west. The palace was constructed of hard volcanic stone and soft tuff slabs, with pumice used for some construction and for chinking. Bits of burned sea shell plaster show that at least some of the building was finished with plastering, just like the main pyramid. Most of these materials had to be brought in from some distance; they do not occur on the site. We excavated very slowly and carefully, mainly with trowels, because we wanted maximum data recovery and because we had no idea what we would find. What we found was that the palace had burned and had been abandoned rapidly, so rapidly that someone seems to have dropped a ceramic jug on the floor while fleeing the burning building. Later a wall collapsed partly over it.

 

Two views of Unit 1, Level 1 cleared for photographs. Note the packed debris from the collapsed building. On the right is a vertical mosaic photograph of the end of the level.

  

Pastor Gálvez has worked with us since the beginning of FUNDAR and is a fine excavator. Here he is clearing around a large vertical stone slab that protruded above the ground level. Right by the slab a wall stub began to appear. The tightly packed debris from the building, destroyed by fire and then helped along by a thousand years of earthquakes and forest covering the site, is clear. Right, Pastor clearing the wall. To his left is a bench which faced the patio. It is covered by a collapsed stone wall.

  

Left: a vertical shot of coming down on the patio. The patio of the palace was paved with large slabs of soft volcanic tuff. Center: the floor and bench with the ceramic vessel in situ . On the right is another view of the southeast corner of Unit 1 with the debris partly cleared and the smashed vessel clearly visible on the pavement.

  

Left: a vertical mosaic of the patio level. The circular feature, Feature 2, is visible in the lower left corner. As we were clearing the patio floor an area free of paving began to appear. As we cleared further it was evident that we were seeing a circular hole cut through the pavement. This hole was carefully cut (it is an almost perfect circle) and was originally covered with tightly packed pumice cobbles. These had apparently been disturbed in the past ... the cobbles were partly removed and show clear evidence of burning.

Pastor clearing Unit 1 for photography. Cleaning up the excavation so that photographs are clear is a time consuming and highly necessary job.

We had no idea what Feature 2 was. When we excavated it we found something totally unexpected: evidence of an earlier construction phase at the palace. A piece of finely constructed tuff pavement is visible in the hole, apparently the end of a floor. It connected to a tightly laid uncut stone paving, perhaps an earlier stage of the patio. We found nothing except a few pot sherds in the fill of the hole and we still aren't too sure what purpose this carefully constructed hole had.

The Perils of Excavation

Excavating in the rainy season is difficult, so we are planning our next excavations on the Acropolis for the dry months when we won't have to worry about protecting the area from the heavy rainfall.

  

A storm misses us but hits the Volcán de Guazapa to the south. Center and right: the storm in the distance looks like it is coming our way. We closed up operations earlier than usual on several occasions so that the excavated area would not get damaged by the rain. We covered the excavations with plastic to protect them.

Animal life is abundant at all times, but especially so in the rainy season. Here Vlad Avila has collected a scorpion and put it on his hat for safekeeping. Scorpions are common at Cihuatán, especially on the Acropolis.       Another peril of sorts was the arrival of unexpected visitors. This group was from the tourist bureau, trying to entertain an ecologist from Mundo Maya. The Acropolis is closed to visitors, but a lot of people seemed to find their way to us and then proceed to waste several hours of good digging time. Please remember: do not visit an excavation unless you are invited. Archaeological time and resources are limited and we really need to plan in advance for visitors both so that there is something interesting for them to see and so that they are not interrupting when something has to be done right away. Also, it is considered very bad manners to take photographs at an on-going excavation unless you have asked the director. We won't even mention "sneaking" a photograph.

We are now pretty sure that the rectangular structure really was a palace. And that it was burned and very speedily evacuated and abandoned. The pottery we found in the ruins is not the kind of thing we find in ordinary housing. A very high percentage of the sherds from the palace are polychrome painted and are the remains of very fancy serving and eating dishes. We also encountered a lot of spindle whorls. This shows us that this part of the palace was where the women lived and worked and so was probably the royal family quarters.

  

Polychrome sherds and a decorated spindle whorl from the excavation.

 

In the final stages of the excavation we erected a more elaborate protective structure to protect the excavation from the weather as we needed to leave tthe unit unfilled until Concultura sent someone to look at it. Pastor designed this large tent to protect the entire excavation. Right, Paul and Pastor shelter from the rain before making a dash for the truck.

Encore: P-28

In March 2003 Karen and Paul discovered eight previously unknown structures in the Western Ceremonial Center. These have now been mapped and, having a few days digging time left, we decided to check out the most interesting (to us) of these structures: the low round platform P-28 (28th structure identified within the Western (Poniente) Ceremonial Center.

Circular structures are rare in Mesoamerica in general and are especially rare in El Salvador, where only a few are known. The position of this one in the walled ceremonial precinct close to the main pyramid suggested that it was an important feature of the monumental site center. We wanted to check out its state of preservation with an eye to reconstruction and also to see if it had had a structure on top or if it was simply a platform, perhaps for offerings or sacrifices. The platform had been used as a dumping ground for loose rock for years, so first we had to remove the overburden. We then placed a test pit in the center and came right down on a looter's pit. When cleared out this pit showed us that P-28 had an earlier structure under it and that the upper one had not been finished when Cihuatán was burned and abandoned. Because the West Ball Court also was in the process of being rebuilt at the time Cihuatán was burned and abandoned, it seems that the inhabitants were not expecting to be invaded.

  

Left: P-28 from the south. Center: Feliciano Torres helping with clearing P-28. The black blocks are the original paving of the Western Ceremonial Center plaza, stacked on the platform by workmen removing loose rock so they can mow the grass. Right: Pastor Gálvez setting out the test unit while Karen Bruhns takes some notes and Feliciano Torres watches.

Paul Amaroli, Feliciano Torres, Karen Bruhns, and Pastor Gálvez on P-28.

At Last, a Radiocarbon Date!

Of the two carbon samples collected at Carranza, one yielded a nice date for the destruction of the site (the other sample turned out to be modern, probably because of modern disturbance at the site). The good sample has given us a date of 890±40 BP which in calendar years (2 Sigma calibration) is AD 1030-1240. We think that the actual date should be at the earlier part of this range, owing to the occurrance of Tohil Plumbate in significent quantities in the site. Thank you, Beta Analytic and thank you, contributors to FUNDAR!

Work Begins Again at Carranza

On April 12, 2004 Paul and Vladimir reinitiated excavations at Carranza. The cane is now all cut and there is little danger from bandits (although we do have the help of armed guards from Cihuatán just to make sure). Structure 2, which had the Xipe offering in front of it, is being cleared and excavated and we hope to find more of the offering as well to expose what will be only the second Early Postclassic ceremonial building to be fully excavated in El Salvador (the first is Structure 1 at Carranza, now destroyed by stone collectors).

General view of Carranza and the Volcán de Guazapa as work is reinitiated. Because of the danger from bandits, work had to be scheduled after the cane was cut so there is no way to sneak up on the excavation.

 

Structure 2 at Carranza at the end of the first day with the second structure stairway exposed. Unlike most buildings in the Cihuatán area, Structure 2 at Carranza has two separate building stages. On the right is Paul's first, tentative, reconstruction of Carranza Structure 2. The Xipe offering is associated with the second structure and was located in front of the stairs.

On April 26 the Salvadoran Armed Forces kindly took Paul and Vlad on a helicopter ride to take aerial photographs of the Acelhuate Valley sites.

Vladimir and Paul look a trifle anxious at getting into this tiny helicopter.

 

Carranza Structure 2 from the air.

The North Ball Court at Cihuatán shows up clearly from the air in the late dry season.

Excavations at La Vega de Mangal

In March 2003, we visited a site on the south side of the Volcán de Guazapa where a number of kilns were said to have been found by looters. We found the site and decided that the evidence of vitrified kiln or furnace remains merited further excavation. In February, 2004, Paul and Vladimir excavated at the site, discovering that it had been virtually destroyed by looting in the 1960s. Only one kiln remains in place and it has a huge looter's hole going through it. Associated materials indicated that this site is probably Early Colonial in date and may represent miners looking for gold deposits on the Volcán.

General view of the site where the kiln was located.

 

Luis Alas, a local farmer, holds chunks of the kiln wall. Right, excavation of kiln

Exhibit on the Pipil of El Salvador

Dr. Rodrigo Brito, the President of FUNDAR and Dr. Gregorio Bello Suazo, the new Director of the Museo Nacional de Antropología "Dr. David. J. Guzmán" chatting after the opening of the Pipil exhibit.

A temporary exhibit opened on November 4, 2004, featuring the most famous ethnic group of El Salvador, the Pipil. The exhibit will be open until February 2005 in the Museo Nacional de Antropología Dr. David J. Guzmán, San Salvador. This exhibit, titled “Los Pipiles de El Salvador”, attempts to offer an overview of this group and its archaeological and historical background.

The exhibit was organized by the new Director of the Museum, Lic. Gregorio Bello Suazo, and by Dr. Rodrigo Brito, President of FUNDAR. Museography was designed and installed by a crew including Bello Suazo, Paul Amaroli, Leonardo Regalado, Marlon Escamilla, Roberto Gallardo, Alicia de Benítez, Jesús Benítez, Jaime Escobar, and Ernesto Novoa. Some 100 artifacts are on display, about 70 of which have been loaned from private collections. Lety Escobar and her staff at the Museum’s Conservation Workshop carried out the restoration and conservation of artifacts. All of the private artifacts were duly registered by their owners. In addition to complying with the law and contributing to knowledge about the past, this measure helps to protect their collections in the event of loss, making photographs and other information available that may aid their recovery.

There's Always Something

Because of earthquake damage to the old museum in San Salvador, materials from a lot of different excavations were stored at Cihuatán. We are hoping to rehabilitate the site house for a lab and for storage of Cihuatán materials and so, after some years of negotiating and planning, the stored materials were put into large sugar sacks (many of their original bags were broken or weak and we were trying to keep collections together) ready to be shipped to a storage facility at the archaeological site of San Andrés. Of course, this ended up happening at the same time as our excavations on the Acropolis!

  

One small part of the newly bagged sherd and stone collections waiting on the veranda to be moved. We rented a truck from the Las Marías Cooperative and hired Las Marías guys to bag and to move the sherds. The truck, heavily laden, takes off for San Andrés. Goodbye sherds; hello room to work!

More Work at Las Marías

As the dry season advanced Paul Amaroli and Vladimir Avila began site survey at Las Marías. At Las Marías, the lands belonging to the former Hacienda El Aguacate were surveyed. This area had not been avaiable for survey previously, although we had noted some structures on the air photos. Unfortunately much of El Aguacate has been deep plowed for cane planting and the structures are largely destroyed, both by plowing and by looting. Survey on the Loma de Querca, which is locally said to have many structures on it revealed 2 definite structures and several possible rock alignments, nothing more. The north end of the site is now well defined and the calzada has been followed downslope to the río Sucio, where there are badly destroyed remains of what may be stairs to the river. Problems with clearing up land titles so that Las Marías can be purchased and protected still continue.

 

Paul on top of a large platform in the cane fields of Aguacate during the rainy season. This is why mapping is really only possible in the driest months. Right, Las Marías abruptly ends. Here we see the city limits. Beyond the platform in the foreground there is no construction at all.

The calzada at Las Marías abruptly ends in destroyed stairs down to the river.

Petroglyph Site in San José de Guayabal

A petroglyph site locally called La Cuevona was investigated by Paul and Vladimir in early February. This site, located west of San José Guayabal, has been known for a long time, although seldom visited. The site consists of a rock cliff face some 15m high with several rock shelters at its base. The largest of these is about 20m in length and is entirely lined with petroglyphs, including "noodles," some holes encircled by rings and several Christian crosses. This latter motif is common in petroglyph sites as local people seek to remove their pagan power. An intensive excavation of this site was hindered by the large colonies of Africanized bees which make their home along the cliff.

 

La Cuevona, general view. Right, detail of the petroglyphs at La Cuevona.

New Discoveries at Cihuatán

In March, 2003, Karen Bruhns and Paul Amaroli discovered 7 new structures within the Western Ceremonial Center at Cihuatán. All are within the southwestern sector of the walled precinct, where vegetation has seldom been completely removed. The buildings include several "gatehouses" next to the southern boundary wall, several low rectangular platforms and a 1+m. high circular temple platform whose fan-shaped entrance faces the western stair of the main pyramid of Cihuatán. Several months previously Chepe Salguero reported he had located an original entrance to the Western Ceremonial Center, a wide paved gateway in the south wall, near to the Southeastern Patios palace complex. We photographed and measured this gate, but had to wait for the 2004 dry season to map. However, in late October, while photographing at Cihuatán, we found another original entrance to the Western Ceremonial Center, a broad stairway that leads over the south wall near the southwest corner of the Western Ceremonial Center. This stair leads into one of the "gatehouses," thus controlling access to the interior of the walled precinct.

The circular structure, P-28, is interesting because of the association of circular structures with Mexican deities, especially Ehécatl, the Late Postclassic Wind God and with the Xipe Totec gladiatorial sacrifice. Circular structures are known in the rest of El Salvador, but are not common. P-28, although looted in the 1960s, appears to be quite well preserved. It is one or two steps high, with the black lava paving of the ceremonial center preserved around much of its perimeter. Its orientation towards the western (main) stair of P-7 indicates that it was probably an important ceremonial structure. We hope to excavate P-28 in the near future.

 

Chepe Salguero at the entrance to the Western Ceremonial Center. Right, Karen Bruhns records the newly found circular platform, P-28.

The south side of the Western Ceremonial Center is the only side without natural barriers to traffic. Settlement survey done by Karen Bruhns and Charles Cecil in the late 1970s showed that there were many structures ceremonial center walls on this side. We mapped over 1100 structures in the southern area, including household complexes, tall platforms and platform complexes ,terraces and large plazas. Some of this region has been added to the Cihuatán protected zone, but in October, 2004 we had to deal with an illegal subdivision which is encroaching on the southern sector of the site, including an area of terraces with small to medium sized pyramids. We are hoping that the Ministerio de Vivienda can stop this encroachment and that Concultura will consider adding more of the ancient site to the protected area. However, we are also having problems with encroachment on the west side, with smallholders building their houses up to the access road and using protected areas for cutting firewood, for parking, for garbage disposal, etc.

 

South end of the Loma de Cihuatán. A long terrace with three small pyramids is visible. Right, illegal road cut through the south end of the site.

Karen Bruhns and officials from the Ministerio de Vivienda, the Alcaldía of Aguilares, and Concultura discuss the plan of the illegal subdivision and how to stop it and the ongoing site destruction.

Xipe Gets Washed and Ready to Go

In Fall of 2003 we spent nearly 2 months in the lab in San Salvador getting the Xipes and the offering ready to be delivered to Concultura. This was an immense task and we still have some minor parts of it to go (the obsidian blade fragments, especially). The offering and the statues will go to Conservation in the National Museum as soon as a new Director of Concultura is installed.

 

Karen Bruhns in the FUNDAR laboratory, recording the Xipe offering and a miniature cylinder vase from the Xipe offering.

There is Always a Lot of Work to Do

Although Karen has had to return to teaching at San Francisco State University for the spring semester, Paul Amaroli and Vladimir Avila are taking advantage of the dry season to do site survey and mapping. A new site, Sincuya, was discovered on the Volcán de Guazapa.

 

The principal pyramid at Sincuya, and, on the right, Vladimir Avila and a local resident, Inés Miranda, on the great terrace of Sincuya.

Paul and Valdimir finally learn how to operate the ice chest!

Thanks to the generosity of Dr. Rodrigo Brito, the President of FUNDAR, we now have a project vehicle. Here Carlos Payes, Paul Amaroli, and Rodrigo Brito are seen with the vehicle as they prepare to investigate the Cerro Ulata site.

The Search for Xipe Totec, Part 2: Another Xipe!

 

The beginning of the excavation of Structure 2. This excavation began while all around the cane fields were being plowed, subsoiled, and replanted.

In early December, 2002, word came that the cane fields at Carranza were cleared and that it was time to get back to work. Paul and the workers from Cihuatán and Las Marías, with financial assistance from FUNDAR, started work in mid-December on Structure 2, the only structure remaining at Carranza. This turned out to be a T-shaped platform, a form typical of Guazapa Phase ritual or civic architecture. Only three other T-shaped structures have ever been excavated; none, for various reasons, has had either adequate analysis or publication of the materials associated with them, so the excavation of Structure 2 is an important landmark in Salvadoran archaeology.

 

Like Structure 1, Structure 2 was rebuilt once. The left hand photograph shows the shape of the mound and the two phases of construction. On the right, the T-shape of the temple begins to appear.

 

Left: A sherd of Cozatol and one of Tohil Plumbate found associated with Structure 2. Right: Also from Structure 2 is a piece of a Marihua Red-on-Buff bowl with a lamat (Venus) sign painted on its bottom. It has been thought that Marihua Red-on-Buff was the ceramic type associated with the historic Pipiles. Finding this painted ceramic in the same context as Cozatol and Tohil Plumbate clearly shows that it actually dates to some 500 years earlier than the Pipil. The lamat sign suggests the close relationship of the Guazapa Phase with the earlier Maya peoples of the region.

 

The broken incense burner of Structure 2 in situ. On the right a clod of burned adobe is evidence of how Structure 2 met its end.

On Friday, December 13 a major discovery was made. Paul was excavating in front of the stairs. Structure 2 revealed evidence that it too had been burned and parts of a spiked incense burner had appeared at the base of the stairs. All the other Guazapa Phase sites where some archaeological investigation has been carried out, Cihuatán, Las Marías, Santa María, and Structure 1 at Carranza, were burned and the incense burners of monumental structures were smashed on the stairs or thrown off the top at the time of burning. Apparently this was an indication of the invaders' disrespect for the deities of the place. However, in going a little deeper to see if there was more of the incense burner, an immense ritual deposit was uncovered. Unlike Structure 1, where the idol of Xipe was found broken, in situ, sometime before the destruction of the Carranza site, the life-sized idol of Xipe Totec in the temple of Structure 2, had been removed from the temple, carefully dismembered and buried in piles with hundreds of miniature vessels, a ladle incense burner, a large warrior figurine, and a number of unused (or used only once?) obsidian blades.

Everyone in the immediate vicinity came over to see what was happening.

  

Left to right: The offering begins to appear. The many miniature vessels (last count over 300) are very evident. Clearing off the piled pieces of Xipe and the offerings with him. Xipe's legs and his big foot in situ.

 

Chano Torres holds up one of Xipe's feet. The immense size of the feet is because the statue apparently was meant to stand alone. On the right is Xipe's other foot in situ.

 

Left to right: Xipe's arm and the ladle incense burner in situ. A worker holds Xipe's arm and the ladle incense burner, just after excavation.

 

A warrior figurine of a previously unknown type was found among the offerings. The head wears a feline helmet, seen in situ on the left. On the right Pastor Gálvez holds up the warrior head. This figurine had an olla-shaped body attached to a flat base.

   

Left to right: An outstanding feature of this offering was the hundreds of miniature vessels scattered over and around the pile of Xipe parts. A large number of forms are represented and some of these vessels were filled with red pigment. A tiny foot-shaped vessel is identical to larger ones in private collections. Modeled details show that this foot vase and the other miniature foot vases in the offering were meant to represent the feet of Xipe himself. A miniature tripod bowl contains a tiny cylindrical vase. Three of the many miniature disks found in the offering. These are all painted with the spiral that is Xipe's sign. A miniature disk from the same context but painted with the lamat sign. Xipe has not been previously associated with either the Maya prior to the very late prehispanic period or with Venus.

The work at Carranza was interrupted by the Christmas holiday, but has begun again. We hope to encounter the head of the Xipe idol in a continuation of this ritual deposit and hope to be able to associate the Xipe offering with one of the two phases of construction of Structure 2.

Structure 1 is no more. Local people had been helping themselves to the rock from it and then it was time for the subsoiler to come through. But the good news is that the owner of the site has decided to try to preserve Structure 2 and perhaps even restore it. It seems evident that Carranza is some sort of an outlying precinct or neighborhood of Cihuatán and, with the preservation of Structure 2 and the analysis of the many materials recovered in the excavations of the two temples, we may be able to relate the two sites as well as to understand more about what went on in the "interesting times" of the Early Postclassic in El Salvador.

  

The local people are well aware that there is free stone at Carranza. The stone is removed and sold to builders from the city. Then the subsoiler plows deeply and makes the soil loose and fine, so that it holds moisture better and the replanted cane sprouts immediately. It also destroys any buried features to a depth of over a meter.

Paul stands in the open space that once was Structure 1, one of the few known temples in ancient Mesoamerica to be found with its idol in primary context. Fortunately, Structure 1 was completely excavated prior to its destruction, one of the very few precolumbian structures to have been completely excavated in El Salvador. Carranza is important because, although there are other known Xipe idols from both Mexico and El Salvador, most were found by looters and cannot be dated nor attributed with any confidence to a specific site or structure.

Note: Paul and Karen have two publications on Salvadoran archaeology, both in the journal Mexicon. "Smuggled artifacts returned to El Salvador" in the August 2002 issue (Vol. XXIV, No. 4, pp. 68-69) discusses the further adventures of the smuggled artifacts seized in San Francisco, CA in November 2000 and the politics of return and prosecution. "Jaguar face sculptures found in El Salvador" in the October 2002 issue (Vol. XXIV, No. 5, p.91) discusses an interesting find of Preclassic stone sculptures made in Izalco during the construction of a new school.

Tlaloc 1, Archaeologists 0

Chano Torres shows where Oscar found the Tlalocs.

A much delayed rescue excavation at Las Marías to recover the remains of a suspected cache of Tlaloc bottles was cut short by a visit from Tlaloc himself. Some months ago Oscar Chaverría, the elder son of the owner of part of "downtown" Las Marías, plowed up a series of large sherds of Tlaloc effigy vessels in one of the plazas associated with the main pyramid. Plans were made to excavate the area, but because of bureaucratic delays it was not possible to begin until mid-July, 2002. A short excavation of 1-2 days was planned. Unfortunately, as excavation proceeded it became evident that there was an unsuspected, totally buried, building in the plaza area and that the cache of large Tlaloc bottles continued for an unknown distance outside the small test pit opened. Since the plaza is planted in maize it is not possible at this time to extend the excavation substantially. This fact, and the fact that as the major pieces of Tlaloc were being discovered a large thunder storm blew up and ended that day's excavation, has led to the decision to continue with a much large excavation after the beginning of the dry season.

  

Left: Part of the original concentration of Tlaloc effgies found by Oscar Chaverría when plowing. These fragments and the rest of the material were taken clandestinely by a Mexican cousin who thought he could sell the materials in his own country. Center: Pieces of the newly found Tlaloc jars. Right: A newly excavated earspool. These Tlaloc effigies are considerably bigger than ones previously found at Las Marías or other Guazapa Phase sites.

The Tlaloc jars in the offering were much like this vessel, said to have been looted at Cihuatán.

 

Crew hanging around the excavation on July 12, 2002. Right: The offering was found smashed on this pavement, perhaps a floor inside or outside the building with the tuff blacks. The vessels were smashed by falling walls.

As we were excavating on July 13, a huge thunder storm came up. Tlaloc had arrived!

Read the preliminary report in Adobe Acrobat format.


 

Update on the Search for Xipe Totec

The surface remains of a workshop in which ornaments of a green colored stone were made were found by Paul during the excavations of Structure 1 at Carranza in January-May, 2002. This workshop is located near Structures 1 and 2, but not on any identifiable structure. Dr. Jean DeMouthe of the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco has identified the sparkly light green stone used in the workshop as muscovite. This stone is soft and easy to work and was used to make such diverse ornaments as beads, inlays, ear spools and "axe gods" (although none of the more elaborate ornaments has been found by an archaeologist, they are relatively common in looted collections). Green stones were valuable to the Maya, although softer stones like this were less valuable, and a lot less rare, than jadeite.

Muscovite is generally associated with other metamorphic rocks and was probably mined by the ancient Carranzans from conglomerate, in which it would occur as cobbles or, perhaps more likely, they collected it from the nearby river bed where they could sort through the stones and pick out the greener, more desirable, hunks of rock to take home to the workshop. We have no plans to go looking for the riverine source since today the Acelhuate River is a major sewage outlet for San Salvador.

   
Materials from the Carranza workshop include (left to right) a partly shaped disk which is a blank for making an ornament, an unfinished disk showing the marks of the string saw used to shape ornaments prior to grinding and polishing with sand, three broken muscovite beads and an unusual tooth-shaped bead or pendant.

On May 18, 2002 the excavations at Carranza were brought to a (temporary, we hope) halt. The Xipe temple will not survive another plowing season.

On Sunday, April 28, 2002 Paul took his last pictures with the project digital camera before it was stolen. This is a decorated ox cart on its way to the fiesta of San Pedro Martir in Tutultepeque.

The excavations at Carranza continued through May 18 with 2 weeks off to deal with a serious problem: the assault of the team by three heavily armed men on April 29. All of our equipment was lost and the bandits even stole Paul’s shoes! Fortunately, no one was hurt, but this has been quite a setback and the sugar cane keeps growing. This last week of excavation has been with armed guards from Cihuatán protecting the crew in case the gang decides to try again. Fortunately, Rodrigo Brito, in a great act of faith, loaned his digital camera to the project to finish up with, so we do have pictures from the last days of excavation.

 

In the April excavations the crew uncovered the entire small chamber where most of the Xipe sherds have been found plus more of Xipe himself, including the other foot. This excavation also uncovered a stair on the south side of the Structure 1 platform. On the southwest corner more of the smashed incense burner was found. The ceramics and other artifacts found at Carranza tell us that Carranza and Cihuatán are probably contemporary. Perhaps Carranza was a suburban center for the sprawling main site of Cihuatán. Certainly all indications are that Carranza met its end in the same manner. There is abundant evidence of burning at the abandonment of the site, along with the smashing of incense burners and other vessels around the platform. The Xipe may well have been deliberately broken in his chamber. The deep plowing of the area has disturbed this area so much that it is hard to tell, but all Xipe fragments come from the top 20 cm. or so in the chamber area. We are hoping to continue with limited excavation to uncover the full shape of the platform and all the termination deposits, although the rainy season is about to begin.

  
Seen from a distance the low height of the Structure 1 platform is evident. Right: All excavated soil is passed through a screen to catch small artifacts like the projectile point and beads seen below.

 
A concentration of sherds from a single incense burner was part of the destruction wreaked on Carranza. Right,Feliciano Torres hands up one of the sherds while Pastor Galvez watches.

   
Stone artifacts are abundant at Carranza. Left to right: A green stone disk shaped bead and some pieces of chipping debris. All the green stone materials come from near Structure 1 where there seems to have been a workshop for making beads and pieces for mosaic inlays. A notched obsidian projectile point and the point of a finely worked chert blade, possibly the remains of a sacrificial knife, found in the vicinity of the stairway.

As the rainy season approaches whirlwinds are a common site in the Aguilares region.

The Search for Xipe Totec


The National Museum's Xipe.
Xipe Totec (SHE-pay TO-tek), Our Lord the Flayed One, the lord of gold workers, was one of the oldest and most macabre of the ancient Mexican deities. Although images of Xipe are known from as early as the beginning of the Common Era, we know him best from the Aztec. Aztec rituals celebrating Xipe involved a type of gladiatorial combat in which a prisoner of war was tied to a huge stone with a rope so that he could move but not escape. He was then given useless weapons and fought a series of warriors until he was downed, his heart removed and his skin flayed from his corpse. In rites celebrating him a sacrificial victim was tied to a frame and shot with arrows so that his blood would fall upon the earth like the returning rains. Then his body was flayed and his skin was donned by a priest who performed a series of rituals, including dancing in the flayed skin and visiting houses asking for alms. This continued throughout the 20 days of the festival of Tlacaxipehualiztli ("The Flaying of Men"). Other people who dressed up in the flayed skins included people who suffered from skin diseases or problems with their eyes, both afflictions thought to have been sent by Xipe. Even the ruler of the Aztecs would dress in the skin of the flayed sacrifice.

Images of Xipe Totec show a person wearing the flayed off human skin, which is shown as wrinkled or scaled and painted yellow . Life to near-life sized statues of Xipe are characteristic of the Early Postclassic in Mexico and in El Salvador, but none has been found by archaeologists. According to the late archaeologist Stanley Boggs, two statues representing a seated Xipe were found near Lake Guija. They were found by looters and sold to a British diplomat, who smuggled them out of El Salvador and into oblivion. Luis Casasola, another Salvadoran archaeologist, has documented 2 statues of Xipe supposedly found near Cihuatán that are today, illegally, in the United States. Another head of Xipe, perhaps from an incense burner, is in a private collection in San Salvador. A single Xipe, heavily restored, is in the collection of the David J. Guzmán National Museum. It was bought nearly 50 years ago from a jeweler in Chalchuapa and was probably found in the vicinity. A number of hachas (stone models of ball players equipment) representing the head of Xipe have also been found in El Salvador.


A view of the Carranza site at the end of January.

In July 2001 Rodrigo Brito, Carlos Payes and Paul Amaroli were looking at sites in the Acelhuate Valley around Aguilares (just to the south and west of Cihuatán) on an hacienda whose owner had kindly given permission for archaeological survey. They noted a mound group, badly damaged. because the area has been deep plowed for sugar cane. On top of one of the two surviving mounds (later called Structure 1) Rodrigo Brito found a piece of the body of a large Xipe figure. Unfortunately the site was covered with sugar cane and it was not possible to do either survey or excavations until late February, after the cane was cut. When this happened they found more fragments of the Xipe statue on Structure 1. Paul, Vladimir Avila, a Salvadoran archaeology student, Chano Torres, and the guys from Cihuatán (digging is much more fun than cutting grass with a machete, even in the near unbearable heat of the late dry season) have been conducting excavation at the site of the Xipe find, called Carranza after an old name for this part of the hacienda. Mapping and survey shows that the site appears to have had at least 10 monumental platforms, 2 of which are fairly well defined even after the plowing. View a site map. The rest are nearly leveled, both by plowing and because people have been removing the rock.


Cleaning off Structure 1.

Excavating Structure 1.

Concentration of Xipe sherds in Structure 1.

Pieces of Xipe's torso. The scales are typical and refer to the folding and wrinkling of the flayed skin. This Xipe retains bits of the original yellow paint on the skin (bottom).
Xipe is appearing! To date a number of pieces of Xipe's head, much of his torso and part of his head and feet. Also found in the excavations have been Nicoya polychrome and Tohil Plumbate pottery, both good time markers for the terminal Classic/early Postclassic, and several pieces of worked green stone. The Xipe pieces are all coming from the top 20 cm. or so of the archaeological deposits. A small square enclosure with stone foundations appears to be where Xipe originally stood. Paul and company plan to excavate as much as possible of this platform and enclosure before it is time to plow again. The owner has been extremely supportive of the investigation, despite the obvious inconvenience of having a large excavation in the middle of his farm.


The excavation as of quitting time, March 22, 2002.

Xipe's foot...the large size of the foot is so that the statue could stand alone.


Xipe's nose and Pastor Galvez. This was very evidently a Salvadoran Xipe.

All photos by Paul Amaroli.

Good News from Las Marías

The President of CONCULTURA, Gustavo Herodier, has earmarked a substantial fund for the purchase of a sizeable portion of the monumental center of the Las Marís site! This action folloed the visit to Las Marías by María Isaura Arauz, National Director of Cultural Patrimony, CONCULTURA. Because of FUNDAR's role in lobbying for protecting the site, it will be entrusted with managing the fund and the complex process of negotiation with the owners of the numerous parcels that Las Marías is now divided into. We applaud CONCULTURA for this improtant contribution to the protection of El Salvador's cultural heritage.

Latest disasters at Las Marías

The ongoing distruction of the important archaeological site of Las Marías continues. The owner of half of the main pyramid and the central plaza has planted a watermelon field in it and, in the process of planting has encountered (and destroyed) what appear to have been several offerings, including at least two giant Tlaloc bottles.

Tlaloc pieces         
Fragments of two large Tlaloc jars were uncovered during plowing. In the center, the view from the main pyramid shows the central plaza converted to a watermelon patch. In the closeup the red flag warns off people who might cause the young vines to wilt ... among these dangerous people are those with evil eye and menstruating women. Note the platforms in the background, part of the monumental buildings surrounding the central plaza.

Explorations in the Main Pyramid at Cihuatán, November-December 2001

Paul Amaroli and Fabio Amador, with very welcome financial help from Drs. Rodrigo Brito and José Panades and the enthusiastic participation of the Cihuatán guardians, conducted exploratory excavations in pyramid P-7. See the photo gallery and a very preliminary report at
P-7 reveals its secrets.

Excavation and Exploration at Las Marías April-July, 2001

Mapping of Las Marías continued until the rapid growth of vegetation made all but the largest structures nearly invisible. In late June, thanks to the public spiritedness of Don Feliciano (Chano) Torres, a local farmer, we were able to conduct the first scientific excavation of a Guazapa Phase burial. This burial, in an outlying neighborhood of Las Marías, was in a large urn which Don Chano had located while fencing. We were able to ascertain that these burials were almost certainly secondary burials. A full publication is in progress.


Here Architect María Isaura Arauz, the Director of the Cultural Patrimony under Concultura, observes the bomb squad in action.
We had a exciting day in early July when we began to plan a small excavation to clarify the archaeological context of the offering that Don Chano had found in his patio. He told us that a mortar shell had fallen in that exact area in 1983, during the civil conflict. We called in the bomb squad of the Salvadoran army who were able to assure us, after a day of metal detecting, that the shell had disintegrated with age.

The critical situation at Las Marías. continues. We conducted a series of tours for the Salvadoran press and for government groups around the site, discussing the importance of this immense urban center and asking Concultura to act. We are still hopeful that Concultura will see its way to providing some protection for Las Marias, preferably through purchase of the monumental site center, which is being more damaged daily by farming and armadillo and iguana hunting and FUNDAR is exploring channels of private funding for this purpose. Meanwhile, damage from farming and hunting activities, from the weather, and from looting and selling stone to construction companies from San Salvador is escalating.

    
Las Marías is crisscrossed with these narrow alleys where roads will be bulldozed in. This road, if cut, will destroy the better part of several important architectural complexes.On the right a platform being destroyed for its stone to sell to construction companies in San Salvador. The results of such mining can be seen also at Mucuyo, where a number of structures have been totally demolished.

Return of Stolen Artifacts

In June we participated in the return of a shipment of looted Salvadoran artifacts that had been shipped to San Francisco, California by a local antiquities dealer. A sharp eyed Customs agent noted that the 42 artifacts were probably not modern crafts as claimed on the bill of lading and a seizure was made, with the materials being returned to Concultura. Karen Bruhns, who had made the original identification of the artifacts for US Customs, was present for their return. The artifacts will be on display at the new National Museum when it opens.

    
One of the trunks in which the stolen artifacts were shipped and a Copador bowl, now returned to El Salvador with the other artifacts.

Mesa Redonda, June 2001

The Second Mesa Redonda was a great success. The public presentations were attended by a wide audience, including personnel from Concultura, La Prensa Gráfica and El Diario de Hoy. Both newspapers ran extensive articles on our investigations into the Guazapa Phase and on the return of the stolen artifacts to El Salvador.

Cihuatán Suddenly Gets Very, Very Old!

In the December, 2000 issue of the National Geographic Magazine, a map accompanying an article on the first immigrants to the Americas identifies Cihuatán as a Paleoindian site. We think they must have confused Cihuatán with the Rockshelter of Espíritu Santo in eastern El Salvador. Here's the scoop on the
real Paleoindian site.

Electrifying News!

Power pole going in.Electricity is coming to Cihuatán! The installation started May 4 and is supposed to be complete within a week or so, courtesy of the CAESS company, El Salvador's main electric service. They have donated materials, equipment and labor to install a new line. They have also agreed to not let anyone else connect along this line in order to discourage any more development in the western site area. With electricity we will be able to put a pump into the well and add modern sanitary services to tourist facilities as well as use the inner rooms of the site house more effectively.

Sites and More Sites

During the past 6 months Paul Amaroli and members of FUNDAR have been working to document the satellite sites of Cihuatán so that we may work out a better plan of site investigation and preservation as well as a better understanding of the Guazapa Phase cultures. The site of La Esmeralda was visited; Santa María is being reconsidered from the publications and maps left, and a new site, Monte Redondo, was discovered. Air photographs and ground search have revealed a long avenue at Las Marías. Paul also visited and registered with CONCULTURA a new Late Classic site, Mucuyo.

Agreement Finalized, New Officers

In August of 1999 the Agreement between CONCULTURA and FUNDAR was finally signed, just in time for us not to lose our USAID endowment. The paperwork with SETEFE has also been completed (as of January 2000) and we finally have a regular office, thanks to Dr. Rodrigo Brito, who has donated space and equipment. The Ministry of Public Works has repaired the road from the highway to Cihuatán. This will make it much easier to bring in equipment and supplies for the next stages of development of the Western Ceremonial Center as well as make it easier for visitors who do not have a 4-wheel drive vehicle to get up to the site. FUNDAR is working with CONCULTURA regarding the hiring of armed guards for the site following an unfortunate episode of violence in February. The Aguilares region continues unsettled and armed guards would enable tourists to visit the site without worry about staying into the later afternoon and would ensure security for the equipment and materials being used in conservation and development. We hope to have positive news in this regard soon.

FUNDAR has a new President: Dr. Rodrigo Brito. Other new officers are:

Vicepresident: Dr. Adolfo Payán
Secretary: Dr. Carlos Payés
Pro Secretary Dr. Angel Esteves Ulloa
Treasurer: Sra. Julia Barillas
Pro-Treasurer: Sr. José Panades
Sindical: Dr. José Luis Cabrera
Srta. Karla de León has joined FUNDAR as Projects Coordinator.

City Limits Survey

In March, 1999, Paul Amaroli and Fabio Amador did a short survey to roughly establish the limits of the site. Read the
report.

Here We Go

Restoration and consolidation of the main pyramid, which is suffering serious damage from tourists climbing its fragile sides, is our first priority. Now that funding is being finalized, we hope to begin this work as soon as the rains cease.

Over a 10-year period, road repair, water and electricity, and tourist amenities such as bathrooms and parking will follow.

New Maps

Detail of new mapIn 1996 CONCULTURA contracted with APSIS to map the ceremonial centers, especially the new areas added to the archaeological preserve. These maps, done with electronic and satellite mapping systems, are more detailed than any previous maps, which were done using optical equipment and generally in high grass and thick vegetation. Paul Amaroli, a North American archaeologist resident in El Salvador and Assistant Director of the Proyecto Cihuatán, served as archaeological consultant. The field season was completed in January 1997. Many new structures, including a palace in the Eastern Ceremonial Center, were discovered and mapped.


 

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