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Geostratigraphy, Volcanology, and Chronology at Ceren: Implications of Dating the Ilopango and Loma Caldera Eruptions

Author(s): Payson Sheets ; Rachel Egan

Year: 2015

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Built upon a fine white volcanic tephra from the eruption of the Ilopango caldera and buried under tephra from an eruption of Loma Caldera, the Maya village of Ceren affords a unique opportunity to explore geostratigraphy, volcanology, and chronology in relation to vulnerability and resilience. The sheer volume and scale of the eruption of Ilopango caldera, known as Tierra Blanca Joven (TBJ), would have had decimated not only the Zapotitán valley in which Ceren is located, but also all of El Salvador and parts of the greater Maya area. However, the dates of both the TBJ eruption and the later eruption of Loma Caldera remain debated. Initial studies found that the TBJ event occurred sometime in the 3rd century, supporting the foundation and occupation of Ceren as having occurred in the late 6th century. However, new radiocarbon dates have reappraised the TBJ eruption, moving it into the 6th century. Likewise, additional radiocarbon dates suggest a date in the later 7th century for the Loma Caldera eruption. This paper aims to explore the implications of the revised dating of the Ilopango and Loma Caldera eruptions for both the cultural trajectory of El Salvador and Maya village of Ceren.

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Geostratigraphy, Volcanology, and Chronology at Ceren: Implications of Dating the Ilopango and Loma Caldera Eruptions. Rachel Egan, Payson Sheets. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396785)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America