Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Karla L. Davis-Salazar, Ph.D.


Mesoamerica, Archaeology, Affiliation, Social status


The representation of social affiliation is dependent upon material signifiers that can serve as communicative links between individuals or communities. This study evaluates the material manifestation of an elite social identity during the Late Classic (AD 650-900) period at the site of Palmarejo, northwest Honduras. Previous studies on social identity in prehistory point to the importance of site plans, monumental architecture, ceramics, and human burials in conveying sociocultural messages. A regional comparison of these types of data is made between Palmarejo and three coeval sites in northwest Honduras, La Sierra, El Coyote, and Las Canoas. I argue that the chosen style of site plans, monumental architecture, ceramics, and human burials worked to convey different types of messages to specific populations. Patterns revealed by the regional comparison indicate that paramounts were able to access a common affiliation while maintaining localized distinctiveness. Finally, I argue that Palmarejo elites may have utilized a common regional belief system to reinforce their power and authority during the Late Classic.