Published July 08, 2011
| Associated Press
A team of scientists in El Salvador say they have discovered corn cobs, leftover logs, paths and ditches at an archaeological site in an incredibly well preserved state, after a violent volcanic eruption covered the area in about the year 630.
Led by the US anthropologist Payson Sheets, a team of students from the University of Colorado have been working at the Joya de Ceren site, north west of the capital San Salvador, for approximately three weeks.
Professor Sheets said that "there's no archaeological site in the world that has preservation of organic materials this wonderful. It is not a site where the elite lived, they are only commoners, agriculturalists, they were artisans, they made a lot of things; pottery, vessels, grinding tools, their own houses."
He went on to say, "we're finding out for the very first time what a high quality of life the commoners had 1400 years ago right in this area".
The corn cobs measuring 20 centimetres long and 6 centimetres wide were found up to five meters below ground.
Sheets said around 100 to 200 people would have lived at the location, which was destroyed by a violent eruption from the nearby Loma Caldera volcano.
Its fate to be buried by ash from a volcanic eruption has earned it the title "Pompeii of the Americas".
Roberto Gallardo, a Salvadorean archaeologist working at the site, said the discoveries were important because they showed the socio-agricultural order of the village.
The site shows "the methods of seeding and the different ways owners of these plots of land were planting each crop," he said. "So we see differences in the agricultural order and also differences that suggest different owners on each plot."
The Joya de Ceren site, where the discoveries were made, has long been recognised as a valuable archaeological site featuring a pre-Columbian Maya farming village and was declared a Unicef World Heritage Site in 1993.