Yet Another Tale of Two Cities: Santiago en Almolonga and San Salvador in the Early Sixteenth Century

Author(s): Laura Matthew; William Fowler

Year: 2018


The first Spanish foothold in Guatemala took root during the first invasion of Guatemala led by Pedro de Alvarado in 1524 at the Kaqchikel city of Iximche. Historians regard this as the first capital of Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala. After its location at Iximche, Santiago had two sequential locations near Olintepeque and in Chimaltenango. The ruins of the first permanent Santiago de Guatemala, founded in 1527 in the Valley of Almolonga and destroyed in 1541, lie beneath the modern village of San Miguel Escobar. An indigenous town of several hundred resettled Mexican auxiliaries and their families located in the village of Almolonga or "Ciudad Vieja," grew up about two kilometers to the west. The acta de fundación of Santiago implies a grid-plan layout, but we know almost nothing of the spatial organization of these centers since they lack detailed archaeological investigation. We know them primarily through extensive historical research. In contrast, San Salvador, founded by an expedition from Santiago in 1528, also known archaeologically as "Ciudad Vieja," has been the subject of detailed archaeological investigation as well as historical research. Contextual comparisons between these two closely related early Spanish colonial urban centers has proven very useful.

Cite this Record

Yet Another Tale of Two Cities: Santiago en Almolonga and San Salvador in the Early Sixteenth Century. Laura Matthew, William Fowler. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443581)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -94.471; min lat: 13.005 ; max long: -82.969; max lat: 21.78 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 20399