GLIMPSE THROUGH TIME
You know… Pompeii, Italy
The sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum are humbling experiences. Nothing in travel captures so bluntly the power of nature that resulted in these two towns being smothered in volcanic ash. Some 2.5 million visitors a year arrive to glimpse the frozen lives of Romans in 79 AD. But it isn’t unique…
But what about… Joya de Cerén, El Salvador
Unlike their tragic Roman compadres, the residents of the Maya village of Joya de Cerén (32km from San Salvador) got a lucky early warning sign that danger was imminent. When El Salvador’s Loma Caldera volcano erupted in 595 AD, a quake gave the locals notice that it was time to make a swift exit, but in doing so they abandoned their belongings and homes to the ash. The result was a moment in Maya history captured in carbon, from a dish where you can still see the fingerprints in an interrupted meal, to painted books, household objects, even a corn on the cob.
Objects survive in their carbonised form or as casts, offering an peek into early Mesoamerican life, as you wander their excavated homes in peace. Combine with a visit to El Boquerón (Big Mouth) National Park for hiking trails up its 5km-diameter crater, to just get a feeling for how devastating that eruption must have been.