Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

E. Christian Wells, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robert H. Tykot, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Karla L. Davis-Salazar, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Tatsuya Murakami, Ph.D.


Central Mexican Highlands, Colorimetry, ICP-OES, Plazas, pXRF, Soil Chemistry


This research aims to understand the organization of activities across a prehispanic urban center at the Formative period site of Tlalancaleca (800 BC- AD 100), located in Puebla, Mexico. This study analyzes soil samples at the central civic-ceremonial complex of Cerro Grande in an attempt to understand the use of space. This work is a part of the larger Proyecto Arqueológico Tlalancaleca, Puebla (PATP), which is focused on understanding the socio-political organization at Tlalancaleca that led to this site of early urbanism. Soil samples from Tlalancaleca are analyzed using three chemical methods to perform a cross-comparison of analytical methods. These three methods are inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES), Mehlich 3 soil phosphorus colorimetry, and portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF) spectrometry. The final results of this soil analysis confirm that the Cerro Grande Complex was an actively used space, with areas maintained for specific uses and areas where activities changed over time. In the comparison of methods, ICP-OES was found to be the most comprehensive, precise, and accurate method to use, while pXRF and Mehlich colorimetry were found to show differing information with regards to available and natural concentrations of the different elements. An analytical examination of phosphorus, strontium, calcium, and barium revealed evidence of construction of monumental buildings, a cache, and possible separate feasting areas, indicating that physical spaces and constructions were likely attached to social and political organizations.