P-7 Begins to Reveal Its Secrets

Guazapa volcano
Guazapa Volcano from the Western Ceremonial Center
From Nov. 12 to December 6, Paul Amaroli and Fabio Amador, with the participation of Marlon Escamilla, an archaeologist working with Concultura and Lesley Lane, a Canadian volunteer, initiated an exploration of the western face of P-7, the 12m. tall pyramid that dominates the Western Ceremonial Center of Cihuatán. The purpose of the excavation was to document the western stair of the pyramid and the general state of preservation of the pyramid face in general. Several episodes of restoration, beginning in 1929, had taken place on the lower western stair. Excavation was then extended up to the summit to discover the condition of the upper stairs and terraces. These were found to be poorly preserved, but the core of the pyramid was in excellent shape and showed the original 6 terraces of the pyramid. On the summit some of the original volcanic tuff paving was found.

Before excavation Excavation area

Left: P-7 before work was started. The pyramid, covered in grass, is the focus of visitor attention, which is damaging it considerably. Restoration is planned, with the help of Mundo Maya. The 2001 excavations were to ascertain the scope of restoration needed. Right: The yellow tape delimits the area of activity. Excavations had to be protected from the many weekend visitors to Cihuatán. Later the excavation area was extended to the summit.

Clearing pyramid Clearing stairs
Pastor and stairs

Top: Workers clearing the lower, previously restored, stair and placing strings to guide the excavation units. Bottom: Pastor Galvez clearing off the lower stair.

Screening Plumbate sherds

All soil from the excavation was screened. Right: Two sherds of Tohil Plumbate pottery found on the pyramid.

Burned paving Wattle and daub

Burned paving at the base of the pyramid and a piece of burned wattle and daub from P-7 are testimony to the violent end of Cihuatán.

Clearing the base Plaza paving

Clearing the lower stairs and exploring the plaza paving.

Lower stairs Balustrade

Clearing the lower stairs and exposing the previously restored balustrade.

Reaching the top Top trench

Excavations reach the top of P-7.

Core of pyramid Core detail

The well built core of P-7 shows the original form of the pyramid.

The view from the top Top paving

Left: Clearing the top of P-7. Right: Paul and Pastor with some of the original volcanic tuff paving still in place.

Fabio and company French ambassador

Left: Fabio Amador explaining the project to a party of official visitors, including María Isaura Aruaz of Concultura and the French Ambassador to El Salvador, Lydie Gazarian. Right: Ambassador Gazarian, Ramón Rivas, Director of Investigations at Concultura, Paul and Fabio on top of P-7.


Trenches filled in and awaiting the rainy season to be reseeded, P-7 guards its secrets until another season of exploration.

All photos by Paul Amaroli.

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