Date of Award

Spring 4-1-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Arthur A. Joyce

Second Advisor

Payson Sheets

Third Advisor

Gerardo Gutiérrez


The purpose of this thesis is to study the building sequence of the north central part of the acropolis of Río Viejo, a site on the Pacific coast of Oaxaca. In particular, I focus on two construction phases of a public building dated to the late Terminal Formative labeled Structure 8-sub 1 and Structure 8. Contextualizing these edifices within the construction program that erected Río Viejo’s acropolis affords the opportunity to assess how they were entangled in the social context of the first regional polity in the area. To this end, I discuss three themes: 1) how the construction of Structure 8-sub 1 and Structure 8 was the result of collective works that actively created and redefined the community; 2) The formation of restricted areas as an elite strategy to try to appropriate formerly communal space; 3) the diversity of termination rituals that “closed” the acropolis. I conclude by arguing that public architecture at Río Viejo reflected the social innovations and tensions during the late Terminal Formative between traditional local communities and an emerging exclusionary regional authority.