About the year 545 AD, the Mayas built a pyramid in an enclave known today as San Andrés, in The Savior. None of this would be strange if it weren’t for the fact that that Mayan pyramid was built just a few years after the eruption of a volcano, taking advantage of some of the materials that they had been expelled by him.
It is something totally unusual. As, unfortunately, the inhabitants of The Palm, the lands that have been swallowed up by lava flows become places inhospitable. And also the nearby areas. Nothing can be sown or raised there. Therefore, the logical thing would be to think that those who survived the eruption left there for a time.
But no, a study recently published in Antiquity by Akira Ichikawa, of the University of Colorado Boulder, shows that at least they returned to build the Mayan pyramid known as hood structure. And, as it is sometimes true that if you cannot defeat the enemy it is best to join him, they decided to resign themselves to what was lost and take advantage of the materials that the volcano had expelled to literally rise from its ashes.
Largest volcano eruption in 10,000 years
The eruption of the volcano Ilopango, in Tierra Blanca Joven (TBJ), took place in what is now El Salvador, around the year 539 AD.
18 cubic kilometers of pyroclasts were expelled and the ash covered 10,000 square kilometers
They were expelled until 18 cubic kilometers of pyroclasts, which are those solid fragments of volcanic material that are thrown after the eruption. The lava spread for tens of kilometers and the ash covered 10,000 square kilometers, in some places leaving layers of 50 centimeters thick.
At that time there was no possibility of predicting it, or at least intuiting it, as has happened with the seismic warnings of the La Palma volcano. For this reason, the eruption, which is considered one of the largest in recent 10,000 years in El Salvador, it must have caught the inhabitants of the area off guard. It is estimated that all the people who lived in an area of 1,000 square kilometers could die and that many Mayan cities would be razed and buried by lava.
Faced with this situation, the logical thing would be to think that those who were left alive went away, for a long time. But it was not like that.
Pyroclasts for a Mayan pyramid
The Mayan pyramid of Campana is located 40 kilometers from the Ilopango volcano, at Zapotitan valley. It is built on a platform 6 meters high, 80 meters long and 55 meters wide. As for the pyramid, it is about 13 meters high. In addition, it consists of four terraces and a large central staircase.
The Mayan pyramid is located 40 kilometers from the volcano
It is a colossal structure that Ichikawa put his attention on. I wanted to analyze its structure, the materials of which it was composed and of course, Its age. And in doing so he got some surprises.
To begin with, the Mayan builders used a mixture of carved stone, earth and pyroclastic carved blocks. Some of these materials underwent radiocarbon dating, leading to the second surprise: the Mayan pyramid was built between the years 545 and 570 AD. It could have been only 6 years after the volcano erupted. Or, at most, in a few decades.
This would be much better supported by the theory of some scientists that the Ilopango eruption actually took place around 400 AD, or even earlier. However, according to Ichikawa’s statements collected by Live Science, the recent radiocarbon dating of trees in El Salvador indicates that it was later, on the date indicated above.
All this would explain why volcanoes enjoy great spiritual meaning in the Mayan culture. Because his uncontrollable anger is capable of shaking any trace of life for thousands of miles around. But in turn they can lay the foundations for the construction of a new temple.