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Friday, March 2, 2012

Oaxaca's Monte Albán Ruins (PART II)

Building G: part of the temple complex

A view from above

Ball Court
The Monte Albán ruins are the largest we have seen so far. Located in Oaxaca just minutes from the city of Oaxaca, this ancient city was inhabited by different groups for over 1200 years. The Zapotecs became the dominant culture. We were lucky enough to ride transportation back to Huatulco with some modern day Zapotecs and hear the language spoken. The two women both spoke Spanish so we were able to communicate, but the language they spoke to each other had tones and inflections I had never heard.

If you're 13 years or older, 57 pesos entrance fee into the ruin site allows local working class families
to afford and enjoy the site, too.

Danzantes Wall:  this is one of the many tablets that was believed to be dancers. Recent
studies, however, show that these may actually be disemboweled and castrated POWs.

Gold jewelry at the Cultural Museum located next door to the Cathedral.

There is a museum at the entrance of the ruins that contains many artifacts (pottery, jewelry, religious relics, bones, etc...) However, our family really liked visiting the Regional Museum which is located in the Ex-Convent of Santa Domingo Cathedral in Oaxaca City. I have never seen so many well preserved artifacts from one area, particularly from Tomb 7. My photos don't do it justice. we recommend visiting this museum first before going to the Monte Albán ruins.

There are lots of 'feet' pottery. I like these feet pots.

I think it is truly amazing to stand on ground where ancient civilizations worked, played, made families, planned war, lived and died. Monte Albán is one of the oldest known 'urban' cities in MesoAmerica... they had agriculture, trade, two calendars (a 20 day and a 365 day), a Zapotec writing system and government.
This display is in the ground and shows a number of skulls with
holes in the craniums. Sacrificial.

Turquoise skull found in Tomb 7
Vendors selling jewelry, replicas of some of the artifacts, food, masks, flutes, hats, etc... are all pushing their wares at very cheap prices at the Monte Albán entrance. We were happy to find the wide brimmed hats and the vendor was very busy selling to the tourists.

Jim's hat was 20 pesos and Carolyne's hat was 30 pesos. I didn't know that teenage boys don't wear hats, but I do know that if they don't then they get sunburned. Tim refused to wear a hat and as his mother, I hope he does not get skin cancer and have to have half his face removed. There. I said it. It's documented.

Now, if some cute girl would just please write and tell our son how good looking he is... if he would just wear a hat!

I heard somewhere that this was the furthest north that the Aztecs got and that Monte Albán was eventually conquered by the Aztecs. However, I can't find my source. I do know that the Mixtec people also occupied this area for a time. Basically, one group is in charge until another comes and takes over... until another group takes over... and so on.
Mound III: a temple pyramid

A jade croc (that looks very similar to the hippo I thought I saw on Laura's throat in Zihua!)

Building IV: a stepped pyramid and the largest of the IV structures

The structures are awesome - inspiring - thought provoking - chilling - and even a bit sick when you think about all the bloodshed committed in the name of the gods. But, Monte Albán is the heart of the region and its history has been well preserved in this climate. Even our kids were impressed.

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