Publication Date

Spring 4-9-2021


Castles – defined as the fortified residences of a militarized elite class – are a global, cross-cultural phenomenon rather than a historically particular development in medieval Europe. Pairing Niche Construction Theory (NCT) with the Lévi-Straussian concept of the House, this research combines architectural, statistical, and geospatial analyses for a sample of castles from medieval European, western colonial, and nonwestern societies to show: (1) castle building is a recurring feature of competition in stratified pre-industrial societies, (2) geography and topography constrain castle location and function, and (3) changes in castle placement, design and elaboration reflect the changing nature of social, economic and military tactics among militarized elite Houses. This research has general and theoretical significance for assessing mechanisms of elite status reinforcement behavior and tactical decision-making across space and time.


Castles, cross-cultural, House Societies Model

Document Type




Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Department of Anthropology

First Committee Member (Chair)

James L. Boone

Second Committee Member

Loa Traxler

Third Committee Member

Osbjorn Pearson

Fourth Committee Member

Michael Kolb

Fifth Committee Member

Christopher D. Lippitt

Included in

Anthropology Commons