Date of Award

Summer 8-15-2020

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Many ancient Maya lowland cities developed water-rich landscapes that met the multiple needs of growing populations. The development of landesque capital, in which permanent changes in infrastructure, water procurement, and agricultural productivity are best understood at sites with a long history of occupation. Salinas de los Nueve Cerros was an ancient Maya center that was occupied for approximately 2000 years, surviving the ‘Maya Collapse.’ This site, located in the Maya lowlands, had ties to both highland and lowland communities through its primacy in exporting salt. However, what is not yet understood is whether the commercial population of Nueve Cerros practiced landesque capital, which would have allowed for long-term occupation and a large sedentary population to exist for millennia. To achieve this goal, this project uses a multi-scalar approach to identify and determine the full scale of the engineered landscape. Aerial remote sensing and GIS, excavations, materials analyses and a community-oriented framework were conducted used for interpreting Nueve Cerros community organization and landscape management. In this dissertation I argue that protecting water sources for long-term uses through community-level settlement decisions were crucial for the creation for a landesque capital landscape. Along with these landscape interpretations, the Nueve Cerros laborers were able to take advantage of participation in long-term interregional interactions and exchange networks stemming from collaborative organizing principles. The results of this project show how an ancient city thrived and survived turmoil through community-oriented landesque capital, with direct implications for landscape management in the Neotropics today.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

David A. Freidel Michael Frachetti

Committee Members

Nicola Aravecchia, Helina S. Woldekiros, Brent K. Woodfill,