Material expressions of wealth and social class at aztec-period sites in morelos, Mexico

Jan Marie Olson, Michael Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


We analyze residential architecture and domestic artifacts as expressions of wealth, prestige, and social class at three Aztec-period settlements in Morelos, Mexico: Capilco, Cuexcomate, and Yautepec. House size, as expressed in both floor area and construction volume, shows a strongly bimodal distribution that we interpret as marking elite and commoner residences. We test this interpretation with two artifactual indices of household wealth. One is designed to maximize the elite-commoner distinction in each setting, but is not directly comparable among contexts. The other is a simpler generic wealth index that can be compared among sites and across time. We also consider variability within the commoner class in house size and artifact inventories. While some degree of variation is present, the extent of variation is minor in comparison to the level of elite-commoner differences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-147
Number of pages15
JournalAncient Mesoamerica
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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