The Archaeology of Indigo Production in Morazán, El Salvador

Author(s): Brian McKee

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "SAA 2019: General Sessions" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

The production of indigo dye dominated the economy of El Salvador for over 250 years, from the late sixteenth century decline of the cacao and balsam industries to the mid-nineteenth-century rise of coffee production. The Proyecto del Inventario de los Sitios Arqueológicos del Departamento de Morazán documented five indigo works (obrajes de añil) in 2015 and 2016 in the northeastern Salvadoran department of Morazán. Although obrajes have been recorded elsewhere in El Salvador, none had previously been investigated in Morazán. This poster reviews the history of indigo production in El Salvador. The technology of indigo agriculture and indigo dye production are examined with particular attention to features that would be archaeologically visible. A model is constructed to evaluate the identification of archaeological sites as obrajes, including a detailed examination of the Morazán sites, presenting evidence to assess whether or not they were localities of indigo production. Productive avenues of future research are proposed, and the rebirth of indigo production in recent decades and its role in modern textiles and its potential for tourism are examined.

Cite this Record

The Archaeology of Indigo Production in Morazán, El Salvador. Brian McKee. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 449299)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -94.471; min lat: 13.005 ; max long: -87.748; max lat: 17.749 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 23543