Although it’s not entirely clear, archaeologists think that this pyramid is likely to have been made during the Late Formative (or Early Horizon) period, from 900 BCE to 200 BCE.
At this time, large-scale ceremonial architectures appeared, as did the archetypes of cities. Writing began to spread around the region, as did the prevalence of human sacrifice and the worship of many gods.
This means that the fires set inside the pyramid were likely set by one of the last great cultures present in the region during the Late Horizon, thousands of years after El Volcán was originally built. As for who exactly started those conflagrations, no one knows for sure.
Perhaps most mysteriously, despite the fact that it is almost indistinguishable from a scoria cone, there aren’t any volcanoes like it in the region. There are scoria cones elsewhere in Peru, but they’re incredibly far from El Volcán – so where did its original builders get the inspiration from?
Right now, there are more questions than answers, and it’s likely that much of this pyramid will remain, as the authors put it, a “conundrum.”
One thing’s for sure, though – we are still as awed by volcanic eruptions today as we were thousands of years ago, something that shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s seen one with their very own eyes.