Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Karla L. Davis-Salazar, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Philip Reeder, Ph.D.

Committee Member

E. Christian Wells, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Rebecca Zarger, Ph.D.


archaeology, political economy, environmental anthropology, GIS, soil analysis


Water is an essential resource for human life. Even in the tropical environment of the Maya Lowlands, water scarcity is a concern, because the region cycles between abundant rainfall and seasonal droughts. To understand how societies flourished during periods of water scarcity, archaeologists have studied prehispanic water management in the Maya Lowlands. Yet, water management research has tended to focus predominantly on large urban Maya populations, excluding smaller-scale societies that face the same challenges associated with water scarcity. This study investigates the neighboring non-Maya society of Late Classic (A.D.650-900) Palmarejo in northwestern Honduras to explore how water management was organized in a rural setting. Utilizing GIS, soil science, and archaeological investigations, this study explores how Palmarejo's residents may have collected and stored water for certain sectors of the population. This investigation suggests that the elite may have legitimized their rights over water using monumental architecture and site planning.