Mexico Travel Guide
Monte Albán Archaeology

Archaeology in the immensity of Oaxaca: Monte Albán

Rutopía editorial team
Rutopía editorial team
- min read

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The archaeological site of Monte Alban, Oaxaca, is one of the most extraordinary in Mexico, among other things, because here live the ruins of what was one of the largest Mesoamerican cities that ever existed. This pre-Columbian city was founded in 500 BC and functioned as the Zapotec capital until 800 AD.

This iconic site is located 8km from the city of Oaxaca de Juárez, in the Central Valleys of this state; it’s not only the largest in the region also holds the religion, politics, and economy that Zapotec exercised for more than thirteen centuries.

Though it doesn’t know its original name, some people know Monte Albán as Danibaan, “Sacred Mountain,” “Hill of the Jaguar,” just to mention a few.

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Interesting Facts about the Archaeology of Monte Albán, Oaxaca

The archeology in Monte Alban, Oaxaca is so impressive that it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO along with the Historic Center of Oaxaca City. This designation responds that it was one of the biggest cities of the period; it’s estimated that it had about 35 thousand inhabitants whose main activity was agriculture. 

According to INAH specialists, their first houses were built with materials easy to obtain, such as branches, beams, and straw, but over time they changed to more resistant ones, such as stone, adobe, and stucco. This change in the buildings was what allowed their expansion. 


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Also, many stone figures known as Danzantes were erected, in which nude figures can be seen. The most popular indicates that they are castrated shamans in a state of trance or captives killed in sacrifice; finally, some hypotheses maintain that these sculptures simulate the jaguar, a symbol of the virtues of the governors.


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Explore the Zapotec culture in-depth on the site museum

The Museum of Monte Alban is a reference in terms of relevant themes to the Zapotec world. Here you can learn about its architecture, chronology, ceramics, writing, trade, and funerary practices from the hands of experts.

In addition, within the archaeological zone, you can see stepped platforms, residential palaces, elegant tombs, water control, and storage systems, ball game structures, and many monuments related to astronomy.

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Likewise, in Monte Albán, Oaxaca, there are magnificent pieces such as the collection of engraved stelae, which show the development of its writing system during its occupation.


Monte Alban was definitely a great city of importance and culture for the pre-Hispanic period and continues to impress us today with its spectacular views and archaeology found at the site. 

Don’t wait anymore and get into one of the most emblematic cities of Mesoamerica and its surroundings.

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