tDAR Logo tDAR digital antiquity

A Variety of Cerendipitous Discoveries

Author(s): Payson Sheets

Year: 2015

» Downloads & Basic Metadata


Research at the Ceren village archaeological site in 2013 and 2014 has made a variety of discoveries. The plant casts, made by pouring dental plaster into the voids, reveal much about agriculture in the middle of the rainy season some 1400 years ago. The maize plants were doubled over to dry the mature ears, but the Loma Caldera eruption occurred just before planting squash and beans. So what was that single mature squash plant doing in the milpa? What are the limits of preservation of weeds, and have we overestimated the degree of weeding? Why was there less care in microtopographic field management just outside the village, in contrast to within the village and farther south in the manioc fields? A sacbe runs through the fields, and we discovered the compaction of its central zone was extraordinary. But why were the sides so soft and the center so hard? And why were most of the footprints from people headed south? Our efforts in experimental archaeology to duplicate its hardness are presented, and we can only speculate as to what technology was employed to achieve it. Its surprising durability over a full year with no maintenance is described.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit for instructions and more information.

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Cite this Record

A Variety of Cerendipitous Discoveries. Payson Sheets. Research Reports, Ceren site, El Salvador. 2013. San Francisco, California: The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396786) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8PR7X8V


Spatial Coverage

min long: -90; min lat: 12.597 ; max long: -87.1; max lat: 14.69 ;

File Information

  Name Size Creation Date Date Uploaded Access
2013-Ceren-report.pdf 8.42mb May 8, 2015 7:05:12 AM Public
Detailed report on 2013 research at the Ceren archaeological site, El Salvador.
Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America