Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Karla L. Davis-Salazar


archaeology, environmental anthropology, GIS, Maya, Mesoamerica


Land and water use at archaeological sites is a growing field of study within Mesoamerican archaeology. In Mesoamerica, similar to elsewhere in the world, landscapes were settled based partially upon the characteristics of the environment and the types of food and water resources available. Across Mesoamerica, landscape concepts were also important to religious beliefs and ritual activity in a manner that may have had the potential to influence the power dynamics of a site. This thesis focuses on the management of water at the site of Takalik Abaj in Guatemala during the Middle to Late Preclassic periods (c. 1000 B.C. - A.D. 250) in order to analyze potential ritual and political functions of the water management system. Using spatial data within GIS, this thesis examines the flow of water across the site as directed by its topographical features. The archaeological record of Takalik Abaj and comparisons to water management systems at other Mesoamerican sites are also used to investigate the functions of the water management system. Thesis findings suggest that the water management system of Takalik Abaj was multi-faceted and that ritual functions tied to the control of water may have contributed to the identities and power of the elite.