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Joya de Ceren in El Salvador

el salvadorOften referred to as the “Pompeii of the Americas”, Joya de Ceren is an extremely well preserved ancient Mayan farming village located in El Salvador, that was destroyed by a volcano about 600AD. The excellent condition of the remains provides an insight into the daily lives of the populations who worked the land at that time. The site was accidentally discovered by a bulldozer driver who was leveling the ground in 1976. Since then 70 buildings have been uncovered, including a public building, two houses, three storehouses, one kitchen, and a sweat bath.

The organic materials found are just as important. Those include various cultivated fields with maize plants, gardens with herbs, agave gardens, fruit trees, including cacao and guava.

The discovery of manioc fields was particularly important since it was the first time that a manioc cultivation had been found at a New World archaeological site.

Recently David Lentz, a biology professor at the University of Cincinnati, and his team were surprised to find some unique things at the site, such as huge quantities of root crop, grasses that no longer exist in El Salvador, raised paved pathways, large plots of rowed land, more than 70 ceramic pots used to store beans, peppers and other seeds and a complete planted household garden. Those discoveries are significant because they contradict the mainstream theory that the Mayas used a slash and burn agricultural method and they seem to suggest that the Mayas were more advanced in agriculture than what was previously thought.

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