UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Core and peripheral settlements in ancient central Panamá : a reconstruction of population change at Site 054 in the Río Parita Valley Jessome, MacKenzie Kirk


The suggestion that demographically nucleated cultural centers of Preconquest central Panamanian Coclé chiefdoms firmly controlled and/or influenced peripherally located occupations is empirically evaluated using newly collected, intensive survey sampling in the Río Parita valley and shovel testing of one small site in particular: Site 054. This research shows that Site 054, a relatively small-scale hamlet for its entire 1300 year-long occupation (A.D. 250 to 1522) was peripherally located relative to the major centres at the time. In spite of rapid, precocious advances in socio-political complexity at adjacent sites within the valley, Site 054 appears to have remained unaffected by trends of population nucleation associated with the emergence of complex socio-political organization. It was not until 200 years after chiefly authority had been established in the valley that Site 054 was impacted by trends of population nucleation. The findings of this research contribute to a collectively established and expanding archaeological database designed to test specific environmental and cultural factors involved in the emergence of Coclé chiefdoms in the Central Region of Panamá.

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