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Three human skeletons found in El Salvador shed light on pre-Hispanic life
The burial site where 1600-year-old human remains were discovered by Salvadoran and Japanese archaeologists, in the town of Nueva Esperanza, 90 km east of San Salvador, on April 11, 2014. AFP PHOTO/SECRETARIA DE CULTURA.

By: Carlos Mario Marquez

SAN SALVADOR (AFP).- Japanese and Salvadoran archaeologists said Friday they have found three human skeletons in El Salvador from more than 1,600 years ago that could shed new light on early human settlements in the region.

The three nearly complete human skeletons, preserved in volcanic ash, were found near the Pacific coast at a dig called "Nueva Esperanza," about 90 kilometers (55 miles) southeast of the capital.

The area was buried in ash from gigantic eruptions between the 5th and 6th centuries, which has helped preserve evidence of a the pre-Hispanic coastal settlement, possibly dedicated to salt production and fishing.

The new find "opens a new door for Salvadoran archaeological investigations, which had (previously) focused only on ceremonial centers," project director Akira Ichikawa told AFP.

He expects more finds at the site, saying the two-meter (seven-foot) layer of volcanic ash hides an "archaeological wealth of evidence about the daily life and livelihood of these ancient coastal residents."

The three bodies are those of two adults, aged between 25 and 35 years old, and a child, between seven and nine years old, with two clay beads around the neck, archaeologist Oscar Camacho said, based on preliminary analysis.

They had been buried, two of them in a cross-legged position, along with offerings including clay pots and jars bearing dark brown and red stripes.

The remains are being cleaned for study by the Archeology Department at the National Museum of Anthropology in San Salvador.

A tooth and a portion of the ribs will be used for chemical analysis aimed at determining their sex, specific ages, as well as details of lifestyle, diet and illnesses suffered.

© 1994-2014 Agence France-Presse

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