Discovery of dozens of broken ceramic roof ornaments (almenas) on the floor abutting the front (western) margin of an elite residence (Structure Q-1) at Cihuatan, El Salvador provides a new context for this category of artifacts. While relatively well-known from sites in the Valley of Mexico, elsewhere in Mesoamerica almenas have been documented only from a single Teotihuacan-style structure at the lowland Maya site of Tikal, one structure at Mayapan, and possibly at a few other sites in Yucatan. A preliminary program to reconstruct a portion of the many box-like almenasat Cihuatan, of a date much later than the one from Tikal, generated seven relatively complete examples of this form, indicated that fragments of perhaps another 50 had been recovered, and that they were used in pairs. The reconstructed sample provides an important demonstration of the ornamentation on an elite residence and also reveals much about how Structure Q-1 and surrounding buildings came to an end, around a.d. 1200. At least eight other buildings at Cihuatan had been adorned with almenas, each building having examples of one specific shape, possibly unique to this city. Comparisons with Aztec and earlier Mexican forms suggest cultural connections, perhaps via Tula. These findings strongly suggest Mexican influences for the use and forms of roof ornaments at Cihuatan.
Cambridge University Press
Becker, M. J. (2017). Ceramic Roof Ornaments (Almenas) from Cihuatan, El Salvador: Contexts, Descriptions and Inferences from Other Sites. Ancient Mesoamerica, 1-20. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S095653611600047X