Mount Albán, Oaxaca – Mexico

Mount Alban historical site, Oaxaco, Mexico

Mount Alban historical site, Oaxaca, Mexico

Monte Albán is a large pre-Columbian archaeological site in the Santa Cruz Xoxocotlán Municipality in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. The site is located on a low mountainous range rising above the plain in the central section of the Valley of Oaxaca where the latter’s northern Etla, eastern Tlacolula, and southern Zimatlán & Ocotlán branches meet. The present-day state capital Oaxaca City is located approximately 10 kilometres east of Monte Albán. The partially excavated civic-ceremonial centre of the Monte Albán site is situated atop an artificially-levelled ridge, which with an elevation of about 1,940 m (6,400 ft) above sea level rises some 400 m (1,300 ft) from the valley floor, in an easily defensible location. In addition to the aforementioned monumental core, the site is characterized by several hundred artificial terraces, and a dozen clusters of mounded architecture covering the entire ridgeline and surrounding flanks. The archaeological ruins on the nearby Atzompa and El Gallo hills to the north are traditionally considered to be an integral part of the ancient city as well. Besides being one of the earliest cities of Mesoamerica, Monte Albán’s importance stems also from its role as the pre-eminent Zapotec socio-political and economic centre for close to a thousand years. Founded at around 500 BC, by the Terminal Formative (ca.100 BC-AD 200) Monte Albán had become the capital of a large-scale expansionist polity that dominated much of the Oaxacan highlands and interacted with other Mesoamerican regional states such as Teotihuacan to the north. The city had lost its political pre-eminence by the end of the Late Classic (ca. AD 500-750) and soon thereafter was largely abandoned. Small-scale reoccupation, opportunistic reutilization of earlier structures and tombs, and ritual visitations marked the archaeological history of the site into the Colonial period.

Photograph taken with Nikon D100 & 24-70mm lens at 38mm on 15th November 2008

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