Oaxaca's Ancient Civilizations
Collected by Suzanne Barbezat, AFAR Local Expert
Evidence of human occupation in the valley of Oaxaca dates back to 12,000 B.C. The region saw the height of Zapotec civilization at the monumental site of Monte Albán between 200 and 600 A.D., but many other important, smaller sites are also open to visitors.
Monte Albán, Oax., Mexico
The Zapotec ruled above the Valley of Oaxaca from their hilltop capital, named Monte Alban. Any visit to Oaxaca should include a tour of these impressive ruins. The native people living in Oaxaca today can trace their heritage directly back to the...
Cerro de la campana, Santa María Atzompa, Oax., Mexico
On a hilltop adjacent to Monte Alban, just outside the city of Oaxaca, there is an archaeological site that has just recently been excavated. Atzompa was a satellite city of the great Zapotec capital of Monte Alban. The site provides breathtaking...
Tlacolula de Matamoros, Oax., Mexico
Lambityeco rose to prominence around the time of the decline the great Zapotec capital Monte Alban, roughly 700 A.D. The site was originally excavated in the 1960s, although some restoration work has been done since that time. Among the buildings...
Carretera a Tlacolula 190 Km 17, San Jerónimo Tlacochahuaya, Oax., Mexico
This small archaeological site is situated on a hillside about 12 miles east of Oaxaca city. The name "Dainzú" means "hill of the organ cactus" in Zapotec, although that most certainly was not the original name. The site was occupied in very early...
Macedonio Alcalá s/n, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca, Oax., Mexico
Housed in the former Dominican convent of Santo Domingo, the museum of Oaxacan cultures offers a glimpse at the state's history from ancient times through the colonial period, and into the modern day. The building was beautifully restored and...
Av. José María Morelos 503, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca, Oax., Mexico
This museum is housed in a restored 18th-century mansion and contains the private collection of pre-Hispanic art of Oaxacan artist Rufino Tamayo. He collected these objects on his travels through Mexico, and he wanted to be sure that this heritage...
Allende, San Jose El Mogote, 68256 Oaxaca, Oax., Mexico
Prior to the founding of Monte Alban, the large hill-top capital, the main center of the Zapotec civilization was in the Etla valley, west of where Oaxaca city is now. The site has several pyramid-platforms, a main square and a ball court....
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