Date of Award

Spring 5-9-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Jeffrey B. Glover

Second Advisor

Nicola Sharratt

Third Advisor

Scott Palumbo


Isla Palenque is a small island located on the western coast of Panama’s Chiriquí province. The island was part of a regional investigation in 1961 and 1971 by Dr. Olga Linares who was analyzing distinctive patterns related to social developments in Panama’s diverse ecology (Linares 1980). Given the regional focus of her research, she did not collect detailed, community-level data on Isla Palenque. This investigation aims for that more detailed understanding through a settlement study to elucidate aspects of the social complexity of this site. This nuance is extremely important in trying to understand this part of Central America that is characterized by much variability in the material culture. Labeled by Linares as the possible seat of a “Paramount Chiefdom”, Isla Palenque invites us to ask what that means, how we can assess that notion, and more importantly what it says about the people who inhabited the island.