Date of Award

May 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Robert J. Sherman

Committee Members

Laura Villamil, John D. Richards


Amalucan, Ceramics, Formative Period, Mesoamerica, Puebla-Tlaxcala, Sociopolitical Complexity


This thesis explores the relationship between sociopolitical complexity and ceramics from the site of Amalucan, Puebla, Mexico, with an emphasis on trends during the Middle to Late Formative (800 B.C.-A.D. 200). Ceramics were collected during field investigations in the 1960s by Dr. Melvin Fowler and are currently housed at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. An inventory of the various provisional types of ceramics at Amalucan was compiled, including variability in vessel forms and stratigraphic contexts. This was paramount since it helped situate Amalucan within the larger Puebla-Tlaxcala Valley. Various analyses were conducted, including an evaluation of evidence of food presentation (feasting), determining labor input via the production step measure, and cataloging the motifs that appear on decorated vessels. The resultant data indicate an emphasis on food presentation during the Middle Formative that began to taper by the Late Formative, as well as a higher frequency of decoration and motif variability in the Middle Formative when compared to the Late Formative. Overall, this study suggests that people at Amalucan participated in a pan-Mesoamerican iconographic tradition as well as the larger sociopolitical network of the Central Mexican Highlands, which changed once major urban centers such as Teotihuacan, Cholula, and Cuicuilco emerged and changed the cultural landscape.