Tuesday, March 19, 10:00 AM, Cihuatán
Remarks by Ambassador Jean Manes at the Closing of the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation Project in Cihuatán
* This is a courtesy translation. Only the original Spanish language text should be considered authoritative.
It’s incredibly exciting for me to be here this morning, especially since archeology is a lifelong passion of mine. And we are very proud to have had the opportunity to support the restoration of a historic site as important as Cihuatán.
Places like these tell stories. And it is not difficult to imagine a day in the life of the inhabitants of Cihuatán. Where some families build houses. Some leave early to go collect shells from the coastal mangroves with which they make the lime they use for the walls of their houses.
Others go fishing in the rivers that surround this site. Others go to the field to harvest maize.
All this we know thanks to Cihuatán and other archaeological sites in El Salvador.
We know that they enjoyed the ball game because there are courts for this ritual game here.
In Cihuatán, traces of corn, beans, squash, chili have been found, foods that are still a staple of Salvadoran cuisine today. But something else, quite exceptional has been found here as well: jiquilite seeds.
Jiquilite is the plant from which indigo is obtained, which must have been a very important commercial product for dyeing clothes and producing paint, including body paint. And in recent years this technique of dyeing has resurfaced. I have some indigo garments and it is amazing to think that a color that we still use today originated in places like this one, hundreds and hundreds of years ago.
As far as is known, Cihuatán is the only Mesoamerican site where direct evidence of this plant has been found, and it is a very exciting find.
We know that they had a market where they exchanged their goods, and we know that the roofs of the buildings in this area were made out of straw. The population of Cihuatán reached up to tens of thousands of people, and it is not difficult to imagine the immense sea of thatched roofs that extended at a distance in the large residential area that surrounded the monumental center of this city.
Imagine how much more we can discover if we continue studying this archaeological park and the other sites that exist throughout El Salvador.
Imagine the possibility of seeing thousands of years in the past and realizing that there are traditions and practices that began here all those years ago. This is what we call a millennial inheritance.
What else can be discovered about El Salvador?
What else can you discover about yourself here?
I think there are few things more exciting than knowing this. For the government of the United States it has been an immense pleasure to support the archaeological park through the program of the Ambassador Fund for Cultural Preservation, which recognizes the value of the cultural heritage of other peoples and seeks to preserve it as a legacy for future generations.
In 2019, we continue to support Cihuatán in a new project in which an aerial scan will be carried out using the new laser technology called LIDAR, to generate even more detailed maps of the archaeological sites of Cihuatán and Las Marías, something that will undoubtedly help with preservation.
I want to thank the Ministry of Culture and FUNDAR for supporting this noble mission, and I especially thank the Cihuatán team for the work they carry out each day.
And last but not least, I want to thank all the young people of Cihuahack. The applications that you are developing right now are incredibly important to share the legacy of this ancestral city. But also to show that this site is a living site, and there are many people who can now have an opportunity to discover and enjoy this special place.
Thank you very much everyone for your dedication, commitment and passion for preserving history, for preserving this place of precious things we call El Salvador.