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Mitla(mēt`lä) [Nahuatl,=abode of the dead], religious center 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
..... Click the link for more information. , 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. Wall panels, decorated with hard stucco and intricate mosaics, show more than 20 different patterns of a single motif—the stepped spiral representing the plumed serpent QuetzalcoatlQuetzalcoatl
[Nahuatl,=feathered serpent], ancient deity and legendary ruler of the Toltec in Mexico. The name is also that of a Toltec ruler, who is credited with the discovery of corn, the arts, science, and the calendar.
..... Click the link for more information. . With its subterranean chambers and passages decorated by fine frescoes, Mitla is thought to represent the highest expression of Zapotec architectural talent, although the mosaics have been attributed to 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.
..... Click the link for more information. , who conquered Mitla as well as Monte AlbánMonte Albán
, ancient city, c.7 mi (11.3 km) from Oaxaca, SW Mexico, capital of the Zapotec. Monte Albán was built on an artificially leveled, rocky promontory above the Valley of Oaxaca.
..... Click the link for more information. . See pre-Columbian art and architecturepre-Columbian art and architecture,
works of art and structures created in Central and South America before the arrival of Europeans in the Western Hemisphere. For many years the regions that are now Mexico and Guatemala and the Andean region of South America had been the cradle
..... Click the link for more information. .
(Zapotec name, Yoopaa), one of the oldest cultural and political centers in southern Mexico, in the modern state of Oaxaca. It arose in the eighth century B.C., but almost nothing is known about the earliest history of the settlement. From the tenth to 14th centuries A.D., Mitla was the center of the Zapotec culture. In the 15th century Mitla was conquered by the Mixtec, who created splendid architectural works—palaces, temples, and underground tombs. A distinctive feature of Mitla building decoration is the use of mosaic panels to adorn inner and outer walls. The flat wooden roofs of the structures were supported by monolithic stone columns. Small narrow bands of frescoes above doorways depicted scenes from Mixtec mythology. Prior to the Spanish conquest in the 16th century, Mitla again became a Zapotec city and the residence of the Zapotec high priest. The city was later partly destroyed by the Spaniards, who built a Catholic church on its site. Study of Mitla’s ruins began in the late 19th century; important work has been done by W. Holmes, E. Seler, A. Caso, and I. Bernal.