The top of this mountain was completely cut off and leveled where a megalithic city was built.
Who built Monte Alban?
What is known about the history of the region is that 4000 years ago, a village-dwelling people of unknown origin (believed by many to have been Olmec colonies) moved into the Oaxaca valleys. Then, around 500 BC (1500 years later) a new people (the Zapotecans) moved into the region. One of these groups then began the monumental task of leveling the top of a 1,600 meter high mountain that intersects and divides three valley, and built Monte Alban with a maze of subterranean passage ways, rooms, drainage and water storage systems.
It is difficult to believe that any group other than the long established governing power which controlled the population and resources of the valleys below would be able to complete the task of building Monte Alban, or that they would allow a new group of people to move right into the middle of their territory and take up a dominant military position on the strategic high ground controlling three valleys.
Archaeologists may still argue over who founded Monte Alban (in spite of the oldest reliefs which are clearly Olmec), but what they do agree on is that in the following centuries, the Zapotecans (the new people to move into the area) were responsible for the distinct architectural style and rise to power of Monte Alban (which coincides with the exact time period that the powerful, war-like Olmec civilization went into full-scale decline).
Over the years Monte Alban is known to have had contact with other cities hundreds of kilometers away: masks and sculptures reflect contact with the Maya, and architectural ideas were borrowed from Teotihuacan around 300 AD.
The city enjoyed two golden eras (around 100 BC to 100 AD and 600 to 800 AD) at which time Monte Alban's population had terraced the surrounding hillsides to support a population of close to 35,000 people spread over a 65 hectare area.
It also had two eras of decline. The first was around 200 AD, and the second in 800 AD lead to a demise that eventually left Monte Alban uninhabited. The reasons for this are unknown, but we know that by the beginning of the 13th century, a people who had long coexisted with the Zapotecans, called the Mixtec, began to expand their territory and that they reoccupied Monte Alban.
The Mixtec added little to the existing architecture at Monte Alban, but they did leave many tombs, including Tomb 7, with its famous treasure.
Very little of the original structures at Monte Alban remain. Most of the original buildings either had newer construction layered on top of the older structures, or were dismantled so that their stones could be reused for other buildings.
Where is Monte Albán, The Sacred Mountain?
|Coordinates:||17.0438 (Latitude) -96.7681 (Longitude)|