site of Monte Alban was the capital of the ancient Zapotec Empire
which ruled in the Oaxaca area for approximately 2,000 years. The
site of Mote Alban saw its peak from about 300 to 700 AD and the
population was approximately 25,000. Sometime before 1,000 AD the
site was abandoned and fell into ruin.
this time, though, many of the buildings were plastered and painted
red. Almost 200 underground tombs have been found around the site,
some of them very elaborately painted with frescoes.
Here is a field for
playing juego de pelota
is one of the tombs and a shot of its small interior, at bottom
right. The rest of the walls were probably covered with similar
carvings and painted bright colors. Many of the tombs are much more
extensively built than this one, but most are closed to prevent
wear and tear on the site.
the above four photos, you can see Edificio L and some Danzante
(dancer) carvings (you can see them in the larger picture in the
lower right hand corner). They depict Zapotec leaders mutilating
helpless captives. Some have blood flowing where their genitalia
have been cut off. A bit hard to make out, but definitely worth
examination if you go to Monte Alban.
is the Sistema IV building and the towering Stela 18 in front of
it (at right). This particular building contains elements from all
the different phases of construction at Monte Alban, over a period
of 2,000 years.
artwork and hieroglyphs
Another view of the Sistema IV
A view of the Plataforma Sur
from the imposing Plataforma Norte
the two Plataformas you get the best view of the entire site as
well as some nice panaromas of hte surrounding area. This is a photo
taken of the palaces and pyramids on the east side of the site.
On the far left you can see the juego de pelota.
three shots are some of the buildings of the ceremonial center that
can be found on top of the Plataforma Norte. Make sure you climb
each of the main platforms; there are some real gems that can only
be seen from their high vantage points.
The oddly shaped
Edificio J is believed to be an observatory
two of the stelae that
can be seen around the site
Alban is not to be missed during a visit to Oaxaca.
The site can be seen in a half-day trip, but you should allow
most of a day with the evening to explore some more of Oaxaca.