Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Prehispanic Oaxaca

Surrounding Oaxaca, there are dozens of archeological sites, reinforcing the idea that people have lived in this valley for thousands of years. Monte Alban sits directly south of the city, it's summit covered by the ruins of a large settlement. A bit of the ruins show up in the photo above, alongside a flowering Jacaranda tree.


 These buildings are thought to be more than 2000 years old. The large structures are thought to be ceremonial. The site includes this ball court, a feature common to many prehispanic archeological sites.

The ruins are awe inspiring, as is the site on this mountain. Many of the surrounding hills show signs of having been terraced for farming. Monte Alban was abandoned many centuries before the Spanish invasion. We also visited Yagul, a site about twenty miles to the east, which is thought to have been contemporary to Monte Alban. It is also set on a high hill, with long views across the valley. The photo below shows the ruins at Yagul.

We also visited Mitla, a site still further east in the Valley of Oaxaca, and much more recent. In fact, when the Spanish arrived, they just constructed a church and administrative center right on top of the buildings previously constructed by the Zapotec people.

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