Ancient Oaxaca: The Monte Alban State

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Little is known about the causes of decline, but it is accepted that the Mixtec people took over the site, re-using some of the Zapotec tombs. In essence, the two cultures melded.

The Ruins of Monte Alban in Oaxaca, Mexico | USA Today

This habitation lasted up until the European invasion of the 16th century. Try to visit early if you want to avoid a lot of large tour groups and vendors at the exit and entry points. Despite being in an area vulnerable to earthquakes, much of the city remains intact. There are clues in these old stones to eras, languages, military adventures and the occupations of its citizens.

Monte Albán Archaeological Site

Visitors can stroll along the same esplanade trafficked by long-ago pedestrians and behold imposing temples, baroque tombs, intricate bas-reliefs, a palace with 13 rooms surrounding a central patio and many examples of hieroglyphs. One of the buildings is regarded as the first astronomical observatory in Mesoamerica.

source site There is even a ball court tlachtli , where Zapotec athletes played the time-honored game of ollama. Somewhat similar to today's soccer, ollama was as much a religious ritual as it was a sport. Take note that visitors are allowed access only to certain areas, however; restrictions are necessary in order to preserve the integrity of the monuments and prevent tourists from taking "souvenirs".

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Closer inspection is possible at the onsite Museo de Monte Alban. Its many exhibits include several examples of the mysterious free-standing figurative bas-relief sculptures known as Danzantes Dancers. The stylized human forms hearken back to the Olmec style, with large, globular heads and blocky body-shapes.

Other Ancient Cities Near Monte Alban

The limbs are contorted in strange ways, and there is speculation by some observers that rather than dancers, these figures might represent the victims of an unknown plague. The museum also contains displays of artifacts such as pottery, small sculptures and relics from excavated tombs. A cafe and bookshop offer food for body and mind. Restrooms are also available. These people were artists, farmers, shopkeepers, builders and warriors.

They were deeply religious, as can be witnessed by the glory of their temples.

Monte Alban is also a world heritage site at Unesco. Photos and text by Marcelo Ozorio.

  • The Ruins of Monte Alban Near Oaxaca are a UNESCO World Heritage Site;
  • Visti Monte Alban: A UNESCO Site out of the Past.
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  • The Ruins of Monte Alban Near Oaxaca are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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On this series I will show you the gorgeous Miscanti Lagoon, located in the meeting of […]. It reached its peak at the same time as Teotihuacan , between to A. By the year it was in decline. Building J, sometimes referred to as the Astronomical Observatory, has an unusual pentagonal shape and is aligned at an angle compared to all the other buildings in the zone.

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Noble families lived around the perimeter of the ceremonial center and remains of some of their homes can be seen. The homes often contain a tomb in the central patio, tombs and have mural paintings but unfortunately, these are closed to the public.

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The Zapotec civilization made several important advances in astronomy, writing, and possibly in medicine. The archaeological site of Atzompa is located on an adjacent hillside and is considered a satellite city of Monte Alban. After the Zapotecs abandoned the site, it was used by Mixtecs who recognized it as a sacred place and re-used one of the Zapotec tombs, burying one of their rulers there with an amazing treasure which included many pieces of gold, silver, precious stone and intricately carved bone.

The treasure was found during excavations led by archaeologist Alfonso Caso in There is a small site museum which contains a sampling of stelae, funerary urns, and skeletal remains.

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More impressive items are housed in the Oaxaca Museum of Cultures.