Research into social inequality among the Maya often focuses on how elites gained power, while my research sought to identify how both elites and non-elites used economic decision-making to maintain and/or augment their status. My research tested for economic agency and risk mitigation strategies among elite and non-elite households at a single Maya site, Holtun, in the Central Lowlands. Its purpose was also to test for conservation behavior during a period of abundance.

The data for this dissertation was collected through the excavation of civic ceremonial and domestic plazas, and through lithic analyses of obsidian and chert artifacts from the Preclassic and Classic periods. Traditional lithic analyses were employed along with handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (pXRF). I found that while both elites and non-elites expressed agency and risk mitigation strategies during the Classic period, they did so in differing ways. These findings reveal that Classic period elites did not rigidly control lithic industries at Holtun, and that non-elites and lesser elites used lithic material access and production to augment their statuses. Moreover, this research found that obsidian conservation varied based on the source of the raw material, especially for elites, and not only on abundance versus scarcity.

Degree Date

Spring 2022

Document Type


Degree Name





David J. Meltzer

Second Advisor

Brigitte Kovacevich

Third Advisor

B. Sunday Eiselt

Fourth Advisor

Michael G. Callaghan

Subject Area


Number of Pages




Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

Crawford Obsidian Data.xlsx (7577 kB)
Obsidian Data

MURRsourcesamples.xlsx (3879 kB)
Obsidian pXRF Calibration Data

Crawford Chert Tool Data.xlsx (128 kB)
Chert Tool Analysis Data



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