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Organization and Growth among Early Complex Societies in Central Pacific Panama

Berrey, Charles A. (2014) Organization and Growth among Early Complex Societies in Central Pacific Panama. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This research explores the development of organizational variation among early complex societies in Central Pacific Panama. Beginning around the onset of the Late Ceramic II period (AD 700-1522) strongly hierarchal societies emerged in multiple parts of this macroregion, such as the Río Parita valley, and continued to develop until the sixteenth century. Social power within these societies was drawn from a wide range of different activities, but there is strong evidence to suggest that such power was drawn from the same general suite of activities in different regions, and at different points in time. Despite these similarities, however, there were other parts of Central Panama, such as the Río Tonosí valley, where early complex societies also evolved, but that did not develop the strong levels of social hierarchy or engage in the same sorts of aggrandizing behavior that is documented in other regions. These societies interacted with and shared many important sociocultural characteristics with those that were more hierarchical, but for some reason seem do not seem to have developed systems of strong hierarchical organization.

This research set out to explore the factors that led to such variation by conducting a systematic, full-coverage regional-scale survey of the Río Tonosí valley, so as to compare the settlement and demographic patterns that played out in this region to those of the Río Parita valley, where regional survey has already been carried out. These results suggest that, despite exhibiting many strong similarities in demographic and social organization between AD 200 and 500, the trajectories of these two regions began to diverge sometime between AD 500 and 1000. This divergence seems to have been sparked by differential levels of regional demographic growth, coupled with differential levels of environmental risk that existed in these regions. These differences prompted early complex societies to organize their interaction in substantially different ways across the landscape, facilitating different sorts of activities and forms of social behavior, ultimately leading to the organizational variation that can be observed in the Late Ceramic II period.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Berrey, Charles A.cab10@pitt.eduCAB10
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairDrennan, Robertdrennan@pitt.eduDRENNAN
Committee Memberde Montmollin, Olivierolly@pitt.eduOLLY
Committee MemberBermann, Marcbermarc@pitt.eduBERMARC
Committee MemberHaller,
Date: 28 May 2014
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 21 March 2014
Approval Date: 28 May 2014
Submission Date: 8 May 2014
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 164
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: complex societies; social inequality; settlement patterns; regional demography; Panama
Date Deposited: 28 May 2014 14:43
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:20


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