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Ancient Pyramid Made From Volcanic Ash Likely Built to 'Calm Earth’s Anger,' Media Says

CC BY 2.0 / Maxwell Hamilton / Volcanic eruption
Volcanic eruption - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.09.2021
The researcher says “monumental structures or pyramids were considered metaphors for sacred mountains,” and that the pyramid located at the San Andres site might have been perceived as some sort of protection from the volcano.
While a powerful volcanic eruption that occurred halfway through the first millennium plunged the Maya civilisation into decline, new research suggests that it did not take long for them to recover, Gizmodo reports.
The Tierra Blanca Joven eruption, which occurred in what eventually became modern-day El Salvador, covered an area with a radius of 35 km with waist-high layer of tephra, and led to a historical period known as “Maya Hiatus,” when many Mayan communities around the volcano had to be abandoned, the media outlet notes.
Seeking to assess the impact of this disaster on local communities at the time, Akira Ichikawa, an archaeologist at the University of Colorado Boulder, investigated the San Andres site – where there are remnants of a Maya settlement that houses the pyramid known as La Campana.
During the course of his study, Ichikawa determined that the pyramid’s construction began “within the first five to 30 years after the volcanic eruption, and no more than 80 years after,” as the media outlet puts it.
In his research, Ichikawa also argues that “survivors and/or re-settlers made considerable efforts to construct monumental public buildings immediately following the eruption, using large quantities of volcanic tephra as construction material.”
The archaeologist further suggested that the pyramid, built from a combination of volcanic tephra and earth, may have possibly been perceived as some sort of protection from the volcano.
“Monumental structures or pyramids were considered metaphors for sacred mountains,” Ichikawa told Gizmodo.
The researcher reportedly said that, since the eruption was possibly viewed by some as “a sign of angry Earth,” the construction of a monumental building from a volcanic ash might have been regarded by a method to calm the perceived ire.
At the same time, he added, that construction project “also helped to reestablish social and political order” in the valley, the media outlet adds.
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