Sustainability of Joya de Cerén Archaeological Site

The protection of heritage sites are important. There are heritage sites that are getting old and slowly fading away into pieces or destroyed within the land itself. The archaeological site located in La Libertad Department in El Salvador, the Joya de Cerén is refered to as the “Pompeii of the Americas”. The Joya de Cerén Archaeological Site is a pre-Hispanic farming community that was buried under an eruption of the Laguna Caldera volcano. Buried under layers of volcanic ash the remains of this Hispanic city are all that remain of the city. Surprisingly the remains of this site are too good to be true.  But help give us an insight of how the daily lives of Central America people lived and worked.

El Salvador

The site was abandoned after the volcanic eruption until the ash layer weathered away into fertile soil. This site was still unseen even though the ash was weathered away and it wasn’t until construction of a gain-storage silos in 1976. During the construction of the storage a clay-built structure was exposed by a bulldozer. Till this day about a total of 18 structures have been identified and 10 have been either completely or partially discovered. The structures discovered are made of earth and features like thatch roofs. Materials used for these structures are earthquake resistant which maybe helped it stay intact.

The archaeological site of Joya de Ceréna plays an important cultural symbol in El Salvador. With the remain of the building and even some of the artifacts, it illustrate the continuity of life and helps with the understanding of the present people  It links the past to the present and also plays an important role in human development of the region. Things such as the way the site is presented and conserved contributes to its cultural identity.


Just like all World Heritage site it must follow criteria’s that make it a Heritage site. Joya de Cerén is an example of the daily lives of the people in the seventh century A.D which is criterion iii. This archaeological site also passes criterion iv. This being that the site was almost entirely preserved due to the ash from the volcano. It preserved the architecture, organic materials and different artifacts that provide a window into the past. The daily lives of the people are easily seen due to the fact that the ashes from the volcano preserved everything even the pots and pans that were in their original place of use.

El salvador3

There are national laws and international treaties ratified by the El Salvador government that protect this archaeological site. This site being made by earth and organic material makes it hard to conserve which is part of its protection. Constant monitoring and interventions are need to keep the site in good shape. The Archaeology Department carries out constant monitoring and recordings of this site. It is important to take good care of this site because it is fragile due to its structure and it would be a loss to lose this site because of how well it shows the daily life of the people in the seventh century.




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4 Responses to Sustainability of Joya de Cerén Archaeological Site

  1. masonanderson says:

    The cost of managing such a fragile site must be great. I wonder what qualities the materials had to withstand a volcanic eruption.

  2. rstadnitskiy says:

    I thought that when you mentioned how Joya de Ceréna plays an important cultural symbol in El Salvador was an important point when discussing the role of sustainability of Joya de Ceren.

  3. mbaldwin3 says:

    I had no idea this place existed, but I guess many others didn’t. I am glad that the government is stepping in to help protect the site and it is good to see so many working to preserve the area.

  4. rhenke2014 says:

    Its amazing that everything was so well preserved by the ash and a little ironic because we usually volcanic eruptions with destruction not preservation.

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