Joya de Cerén Archaeological Site

This small heritage site, the “Pompeii of El Salvador” is an hour’s journey by chicken bus* outside San Salvador.

Joya de Ceren

Joya de Ceren

My journey to San Salvador from Antigua had not started well; the 9am shuttle bus failed to collect me so I went on the 12.30pm instead. This delivered me to a tiny one-vehicle “international” coach station somewhere in Guatemala City where I was put on a bus for which I was never actually given a ticket. The delay meant that I arrived at my destination in the dark, something I prefer not to do, particularly in cities with bad reputations.

Joya de Ceren

Joya de Ceren

Joya de Ceren is the excavated remains of a pre-hispanic farming settlement that was buried by ash from a volcano 1km away, when it erupted around 600AD. The rammed earth buildings were preserved and organic material such as construction timber, food and crops in the fields can be identified from their charred remains.

Joya de Ceren

Joya de Ceren - cast of remains of maize

Unlike Pompeii, the residents had time to get away, so there are no human remains. They did leave possessions behind though and the site museum displays some delightfully decorated ceramics, religious objects, obsidian blades and other items.

Joya de Ceren

Joya de Ceren - ceramic vessel

The excavations are protected by large roofs and there isn’t a great deal to see, but it makes a good contrast to see evidence of the lives of ordinary people after all the great stone Mayan complexes I’ve visited.

Joya de Ceren

Joya de Ceren - looking towards the guilty volcano. apparently

The structures on the site are mostly houses, stores and community gathering places. For the Lego model I chose the building identified as a steam bath:

Joya de Ceren - steam bath

Joya de Ceren - steam bath

I’ve ignored the hole in the roof in building the model.

Lego Joya de Ceren - steam bath

Lego Joya de Ceren - steam bath

* Chicken buses are the ubiquitous central American local transport. Usually old repainted US school buses with dubious suspension and frequently crammed to the gunwales with passengers. Most have roof racks, which can be seen loaded with all manner of goods and chattels. They are incredibly cheap and play loud latin music (I can’t be more precise than that – I’m rubbish at musical genres).

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