Archaeological site of Tazumal in Chalchuapa
Chalchuapa is home to the oldest archaeological sites in El Salvador, and is composed of a number of sites, such as Tazumal, El Trapiche, and Casa Blanca. People began living in Chalchuapa in the early Preclassic period and built the largest pyramid structure in El Trapiche during the Middle Preclassic period. Thereafter, the town center was moved to Casa Blanca in the late Preclassic period, and then to Tazumal in the early Classic period. Tazumal flourished as the center of Chalchuapa until the Spanish conquest, but its people have continued to live in Tazumal during and after the period of Spanish rule. The main pyramid in Tazumal was depicted on a large denomination note (100 colón) before the colón was substituted by the U.S. dollar. Today, it is featured as the background image on ID cards, and symbolizes the identity of the people of El Salvador. The Tazumal site has been made into a national archaeological park.
Archaeology in El Salvador
When we visited El Salvador for the first time in the 1990s on a survey tour, there were no archaeologists who graduated from a university in El Salvador, largely because no universities in the country offered a major in archaeology, and students who wished to study archaeology went to a foreign university. Given this situation, a major in archaeology was offered for the first time in the country at Universidad de San Jorge. In 1997, it undertook the role of providing practical training in archaeology and other relevant courses in an archaeological survey that was implemented by Kyoto University of Foreign Studies with funding from the Grant-in-aid for Scientific Research. Later, however, the five archaeology majors at Universidad de San Jorge transferred to Universidad Tecnológica de El Salvador (UTEC).