Joya de Ceren – The Pompeii of the Americas
Joya de Ceren is an ancient Maya village located just outside of San Salvador, the capital city of El Salvador. This ancient village offers a glimpse into the everyday lives of the Mayans who inhabited the area over 1,400 years ago. The site is often referred to as the “Pompeii of the Americas” due to the unique way in which it was preserved.
Why it’s the Pompeii of the Americas?
Like the ancient Roman city of Pompeii, Joya de Ceren was buried by a volcanic eruption and preserved many of its structures and artifacts.
This ancient Mayan village was unseen for centuries because it was under volcanic ashes and debris from the Loma Caldera volcano that erupted around 600 AD. A farmer discovered the site in the 1970s, and it has been excavated since then, revealing well-preserved houses, tools, and other artifacts from the pre-Columbian Maya civilization. This allowed archaeologists to uncover a detailed picture of daily life in a pre-Columbian Maya village.
The preservation of these structures and artifacts is similar to that of Pompeii, which was buried by ash and pumice during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.
What you see inside the complex
One of the most fascinating discoveries at Joya de Ceren is the well-preserved remains of a kitchen. Archaeologists found evidence of the ancient Maya diet, including corn, beans, squash, and chili peppers. They also discovered tools for grinding and cooking, as well as utensils and containers.
Another exciting feature of Joya de Ceren is the presence of several religious buildings. The site includes a temple, a sweat bath, and a ball court, which were essential for Maya religious ceremonies and rituals.
Visitors to Joya de Ceren can also see the remains of some residential buildings, including homes, workshops, and storage facilities. These provide a glimpse into the daily lives of the ancient Maya people and give an insight into their social organization and economic system.
In addition to the village, the site also features a museum where visitors can learn more about the Maya culture and see some of the artifacts discovered during the excavation. The museum also has a fascinating exhibit on the volcanic eruption that buried the village, providing insight into the natural forces that helped preserve the site.
Joya de Ceren is an important archaeological site that offers a unique glimpse into the past. Its well-preserved remains provide valuable insights into the daily lives of the ancient Maya people and offer a fascinating glimpse into their culture and beliefs.
Related Post: Hiking the Sta Ana Volcano in San Salvador
Where to Stay in San Salvador
San Salvador can be expensive for a backpacker. They use USD there, and accommodations aren’t cheap. I stayed at Hotel San Jose Hostal. It’s about 2.5 kilometers from the city center (the Old town), but it’s within walking distance to/from the city’s modern side. The main street (3-5 minutes walk has everything you want to eat/buy. Though no one spoke English there, the staff members were friendly. They let me checked-in early without problems.