Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Fash, William Leonard

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Anthropology


Mayas--Dwellings; Mayas--Antiquities; Copan Site (Honduras)


While a basic understanding of the lifeways of the ancient Maya center of Copan has been achieved through regional and household level settlement studies, one ancient Copan Valley settlement locus that is poorly known is the modern town of Copan Ruinas. This paper improves our knowledge of this area by presenting detailed descriptive data from a recent archaeological investigation in the town's Barrio Buenavista that revealed an informal cluster of four structures, six human burials, and thousands of ceramic and stone artifacts. In addition, the analysis of these remains involves four objectives: 1) to determine the function of the excavated structures; 2) to address the dating of the Pueblo settlement; 3) to dispute the settlement history of the valley prior to Late Classic times as defined by the researchers Webster and Freter; and 4) to identify the social units known as "households" among the four excavated structures. First, a domestic function is assigned to these structures based on the high frequency of utilitarian ceramic types recovered within and around them. Second, regarding chronology, the discovery of three Late Preclassic period (400 B.C. - A.D. 100) sherds in a deep test pit is the only known evidence for settlement during this period outside the valley bottomlands; this information supports Sylvanus Morley's notion that the village was an early settlement locus in the Copan Valley, but places it earlier in time than he and others suspected. Third, Webster and Freter's reconstruction of the Copan Valley as a region with a single "pulse" of growth and activity beginning and ending in the Late Classic period, with earlier communities confined to the bottomlands, becomes problematical. Instead, there clearly was extensive occupation of the valley prior to Late Classic times; that at Copan Ruinas was previously poorly known due to its burial and destruction by modern settlement. Last, two household units are identified among these structures using architectural criteria and burial data. This study concludes with recommendations for future research at this locality.


Includes bibliographical references ([180]-[187])


ix, 192 pages




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