Monte Albán


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Related to Monte Albán: Mitla

Monte Albán

(mōn`tā älbän`), ancient city, c.7 mi (11.3 km) from Oaxaca, SW Mexico, capital of the ZapotecZapotec
, indigenous people of Mexico, primarily in S Oaxaca and on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Little is known of the origin of the Zapotec. Unlike most native peoples of Middle America, they had no traditions or legends of migration, but believed themselves to have been born
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. Monte Albán was built on an artificially leveled, rocky promontory above the Valley of Oaxaca. Located around an enormous plaza about 1,000 ft (300 m) long and 650 ft (198 m) wide are long, low buildings set off by sunken courts and stairways. The tombs, particularly Tomb 7, have yielded great archaeological treasure—jewelry of gold, copper, jade, rock crystal, obsidian, and turquoise mosaic and bone and wood carving showing elaborate religious symbolism. Excavation was begun (1931) by the Mexican archaeologist Alfonso CasoCaso, Alfonso
, 1896–1970, Mexican archaeologist. An authority on the ancient high civilizations of Mexico, he directed explorations at Mitla and Monte Albán during the 1920s and 30s. Among his many books and articles are The Religion of the Aztecs (tr.
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. The Zapotec apparently had an advanced culture here c.200 B.C. and already were using the bar and dot system of numerals used by the Maya. The final epoch (c.1300–1521), terminated by the Spanish Conquest, covers the ascendancy of the MixtecMixtec
, Native American people of Oaxaca, Puebla, and part of Guerrero, SW Mexico, one of the most important groups in Mexico. Although the Mixtec codices constitute the largest collection of pre-Columbian manuscripts in existence, their origin is obscure.
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, when the Zapotec were driven from Monte Albán and MitlaMitla
[Nahuatl,=abode of the dead], religious center of the Zapotec, near Oaxaca, SW Mexico. Probably built in the 13th cent., the buildings, unlike the pyramidal structures of most Middle American architecture, are low, horizontal masses enclosing the plazas.
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. Tomb 7 belongs to the final period. Cultural links with the OlmecOlmec
, term denoting the culture of ancient Mexican natives inhabiting the tropical coastal plain of the contemporary states of Veracruz and Tabasco, between 1300 and 400 B.C.
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 and the ToltecToltec
, ancient civilization of Mexico. The name in Nahuatl means "master builders." The Toltec formed a warrior aristocracy that gained ascendancy in the Valley of Mexico c.A.D. 900 after the fall of Teotihuacán.
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 have been found.

Monte Albán

 

a city in southern Mexico, in Oaxaca State. From the fourth century B.C. to the 16th century A.D. the region around Monte Alban was a political and cultural center, first of the Zapotecs and later of the Mixtecs. Archaeological excavations conducted here from the early 1930’s by the Mexican scholar A. Caso have uncovered palaces, pyramids, stelae with inscriptions, an amphitheater, a stone staircase 40 meters wide, and other structures built on the crest of a mountain range on artificial terraces. The walls of buildings were decorated with frescoes, mosaics, and human figures in relief. The excavations also uncovered about 150 tombs with funerary urns in the shape of men and animals. In one of the tombs belonging to a Mixtec chief were found many gold artifacts of high artistic quality.

REFERENCE

Kinzhalov, R. V. Iskusstvo drevnei Ameriki. Moscow, 1962.