The Joya de Cerén archaeological site is nested within the Zapotitán Valley. After its accidental discovery in 1976, multidisciplinary research teams of archaeologists, paleobotanists, biologists, geologists, and volcanologists studied the area.
This exceptionally well-preserved site provides a unique account of the volcanic eruption that covered a Mayan village in the Late Classical period, from AD 600 to AD 900. The eruption of the Ilopango caldera volcano was the most significant one affecting the western and central parts of El Salvador where Joya de Ceren was founded, sometime around the year AD 600. The area was occupied only 30 years since the Loma Caldera volcanic eruption in AD 630, totally buried the village.
The successive layers of volcanic material became a time capsule, leaving a perfect record of the daily activities that occurred at Joya de Cerén, telling the story of the village´s organization, and the complexity of its earthen architectural structures, as a testimony of the flight of the
residents of Joya de Cerén. The site gives visitors a glimpse into the daily routines of farmers and artisans, making it an iconic Mayan archaeological site in Mesoamerica and for the world, being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. Visitors to Joya de Cerén can visit the museum and tour the excavated areas of the village.