Monte Albán Archeological Site

The voice of the past echoes through its archeological sites.

Monte Albán is the largest and most important archeological site from the Zapotec culture. It is set on a mountain whose peak was leveled off by the first culture to inhabit it. Most of the existing temples and buildings belong to the period in which it was settled by the Zapotec people.

Among its most notable structures is La Gran Plaza, a square at the heart of the ancient ceremonial center. According to experts, it was also an esplanade for setting up a market. Around it, there are several temples and some residences reserved for the governing class.

The Plataforma Sur is Monte Albán’s tallest structure at 131 feet high and is easily identified because of its two parts. The lower part has stone stele slabs decorated with Zapotec glyphs. The Edificio de los Danzantes (Dancers’ Building) is one of the city’s oldest buildings. Its main features are the stele, set to one side of the structure, carved with glyphs and figures in suggestive positions. Today we know that the glyphs were engraved as a symbol of the city’s military power. Besides these, there are other slabs with glyphs symbolizing numbers and calendar signs. The Juego de Pelota Grande (Large Ball Court) hosted the traditional ball game which was played under the supervision of priests or governors, always for ceremonial purposes.

Other interesting buildings include El Palacio (The Palace), a building with 13 rooms; Edificio P (P Building), used for astronomical observations; and Tumbas 103 and 104 burial sites.

Nearby is Mitla, an impressive Mixtec archeological site that stands out for its temples decorated with intricate fretwork. Other pre-Hispanic cities in Oaxaca worth a visit are Zaachila, Dainzú, Yagul, and Lambityeco.




Zona Arqueológica de Monte Albán, Ignacio Bernal, San Pedro Ixtlahuaca, Oax., México

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