2,500 year old burials unearthed in Quelepa, El Salvador

Earlier this week, archaeologists in El Salvador unearthed the remains of skeletons dating back 2,500 years. The well-preserved human remains, along with shards of pottery, were found in Quelepa in eastern El Salvador.

2,500 year old burials unearthed in Quelepa, El Salvador
Photo courtesy of La Secretaría de Cultura El Salvador

Michelle Toledo, an archaeologist from El Salvador’s ministry of culture, examined the skeletons of two individuals found lying on top of each other. In a state press release, Toledo described the bones as being deliberately placed with a bowl resting on one of the skulls.

2,500 year old burials unearthed in Quelepa, El Salvador
Photo courtesy of La Secretaría de Cultura El Salvador

At the site, four other pieces of pottery were found with a metate, a type of mortar used to ground grain or corn. These additional findings, according to the release, also correspond to a period that occurred around 1,200 to 400 B.C.

2,500 year old burials unearthed in Quelepa, El Salvador
Photo courtesy of La Secretaría de Cultura El Salvador

In an interview with the AFP news agency, Toledo explained that offerings found near bones are not accidental. Cultural practices at this time involved complicated burial rituals, and everything from a body’s burial position to artifacts thrown in a grave were meant to aid the dead person’s journey to the afterlife.

2,500 year old burials unearthed in Quelepa, El Salvador
Photo courtesy of La Secretaría de Cultura El Salvador

According to Toledo, the finding is unusual because it was found isolated from other large cemeteries and offering sites. The dig, which took place from June 12 to July 21, hoped to find more clues to ancient life in this region.

2,500 year old burials unearthed in Quelepa, El Salvador
Photo courtesy of La Secretaría de Cultura El Salvador

While western El Salvador was dominated by early Maya, eastern El Salvador is considered to have been largely the domain of an indigenous group of people known as the Lenca. While similar to the Maya, Lenca had their own language and pottery-making practices. This assumption is based on major excavations conducted in the 1970s by well-known archaeologist E. Wyllys Andrews V.

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Toledo noted that much of her dating was based on conclusions published by Andrews’s early findings about Quelepa.

The skeletons and pottery shards will be cleaned and documented before being added to El Salvador’s National Collection of Archaeology.

Author: Sarah Gibbens | Source: National Geographic [September 03, 2017]

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