Type of Work

Research Paper

Publication Date

Summer 8-15-2021


The purpose of this project is to assess the effect of state formation on wealth inequality among the Zapotec people. This project seeks to address two questions: (1) How are the levels of wealth inequality in the Tilcajete sites affected with the emergence of state? and (2) What variables are better suited to accurately measure wealth inequality in ancient cities? To answer these questions, we used a variety of methods that all conclude with the quantitative representation of inequality, the Gini coefficient. Due to the differential preservation and inconsistency of information in the archaeological sites analyzed, variables like household surface area, obsidian count, obsidian weight, and ceramics were used to calculate this coefficient. The results from my calculations demonstrate that there is a mild increase in the levels of inequality throughout time (and as states form) and that obsidian weight is a more promising variable to consider when computing wealth inequality. The data found in this project is consistent with the Dual Processual Theory developed by archaeologist Richard Blanton.

Hamilton Areas of Study


Hamilton Sponsoring Organization

Levitt Public Affairs Center

Hamilton Scholarship Series

Levitt Summer Research Group Grant

Hamilton Faculty Advisor

Lacey Carpenter