Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Department of Sociology and Anthropology: Archaeology
The purpose of this thesis is to determine what can be learned about the people living near the Ilopango Volcano during the Classic period of Mesoamerican history by conducting a figurative analysis of the living subjects depicted on the ceramics and figurines excavated from the area, to determine what, if any, relationship the people there had with the volcano. I examine the frontier Mesoamerican village of Ciudad Nuevo Cuscatlán by analyzing grave goods found in the mortuary burials located in the area and determining the meaning of the figural subjects on each using established diagnostic elements from experts in the field. I then put these subjects and their meanings into a pantheon of beliefs to determine if a holistic view of their subject matter reveals a connection to the volcano. The contents of five burial features and a single figurine from a pile of backdirt were selected for analysis, resulting in 30 artifacts. Utilizing the iconography on the artifacts, nine subjects were identified as being representations of life: birds, breath or wind, crocodiles, God N or Pawahtuun, humans, monkeys, serpents, spiders, and toads. These subjects were then used as a window into the spiritual pantheon of the people who lived in the area. The results found that the people who repopulated the area after the Tierra Blanca Joven eruption of the Ilopango Volcano had a spiritual pantheon focused on the central figure of Pawahtuun who was either a representation of the Ilopango Volcano, or who had control over it. They also practiced divinatory rituals to connect with Pawahtuun and other deities to interpret of predict the future activity of the volcano. The people living at CNC also participated in some of the artistic traditions from larger population centers in the region and had some artistic traditions which were unique to this community.
O'Doran, Kari, "Living in Ilopango’s Shadow: Using a Figurative Analysis of Grave Goods Excavated from Ciudad Nuevo Cuscatlán in El Salvador To Investigate the Community’s Relationship to the Ilopango Volcano" (2023). Theses and Dissertations. 1700.