Ethnohistoric accounts have been a constant source of inspiration for archaeologists in their efforts to interpret the archaeological record of Central America. However, limited knowledge of the actual archaeological record of this region has been a missing link in the reasoning used to connect the rich ethnohistoric detail known for these societies with the material remains left by prehistoric chiefdoms. The author makes major contributions to forging that missing link by documenting the settlement patterns of the region around the site of El Hatillo. The study allows us to trace the emergence and development of this chiefly center through the more than 15 centuries of sedentary agricultural life that preceded the Spanish Conquest. Complete text in English and Spanish.