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Social and Environmental Risk and the Development of Social Complexity in Precolumbian Masaya, Nicaragua

Roman-Lacayo, Manuel A (2013) Social and Environmental Risk and the Development of Social Complexity in Precolumbian Masaya, Nicaragua. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation evaluates the applicability of three models that purport to describe and predict the development and establishment of social complexity based on the interplay between environmental setting and human communities. The three models are juxtaposed in terms of the conditions required to foment the development of and formalization of social complexity and the corresponding level of inequality, so that each model requires contrasting environmental risk conditions relative to the other two.
Considering the relative dearth of archaeological studies focused on understanding the development of social complexity in Nicaragua, and the abundance of readily accessible precolumbian ceramics and lithics available on soil surfaces, a full coverage, surface survey (172km2) was conducted in the municipalities of Tisma and Ticuantepe in the vicinity of Masaya, Nicaragua in order to obtain the data necessary to test the suitability of each model. Relative synchronic and diachronic changes, including the tempo and pace were documented using the established and broadly accepted ceramic chronology, including the distribution over the municipal territories and the densities of occupation within each defined community. The results indicate very distinctive patterns for each region over an occupation sequence lasting at least two millennia.
Though this dissertation illustrates the limitations of each model using the data available, it also contributes to a clearer understanding of the configurations and trajectories of social change may take in Pacific Nicaragua, thus adding to the growing corpus of comparable archaeological datasets that may bring forth increasingly sophisticated models explaining the development of inequality and its role in the development of increasingly complex social forms.

The complete settlement dataset is available in the University of Pittsburgh Comparative Archaeology Database (


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Roman-Lacayo, Manuel
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairDrennan, Robert Ddrennan@pitt.eduDRENNAN
Committee MemberBermann, Marcbermarc@pitt.eduBERMARC
Committee Memberde Montmollin, Olivierolly@pitt.eduOLLY
Committee MemberAbbott, MarkMAbbott1@pitt.eduMABBOTT1
Date: 30 September 2013
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 23 April 2013
Approval Date: 30 September 2013
Submission Date: 29 May 2013
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 148
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Anthropology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Archaeology, Anthropology, Central America, Precolumbian,Prehistory, Antiquities
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2013 15:25
Last Modified: 19 Jul 2024 18:42


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