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Downtown hotels, although more convenient, can be noisy. At the Victoria we splashed in the swimming pool and dined in the covered terrace restaurant where the guests included French, Germans, British and Americans. I asked the room clerk about putting up the net.
He dropped his eyes. Tall Indian laurel trees with shiny green leaves tower above the square's scarlet bougainvillea and beds of pink or yellow roses. A bandstand with a rococo tin cupola rises in the middle. Band concerts Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday nights feature no fewer than 25 fervent musicians.
A watermelon peddler in an orange blouse carries a basket on her head filled with pink and green wedges of the fruit — a walking Ruffino Tamayo canvas.
We are besieged by vendors. A small girl with an enchanting smile offers—at 40 cents each — a cigar box full of carved onyx animals—burros, of course, and, oddly enough, elephants. All the vendors are extremely polite. All the prices listed are before the devaluation of the peso, so the bargains are even greater now.
Monte Albán Archaeological Site | World Monuments Fund
Across the Alameda, directly opposite the north end, at Independencia , we found the Oaxaca Tourist Department, where we gathered up a local map and a brochure in English. Oaxaca's major museums and churches lie within walking distance of the Zocalo. The next morning we headed for Monte Alban, the area's largest archeological site. As we started out, he presented his credentials. We drove up to an altitude of more than 1, feet above Oaxaca to reach the site of Monte Alban—a mountaintop sheared off like a table. At the uppermost plateau we came upon one of the most overwhelming sights in all Mexico—the excavated stones and the Great Plaza of Monte Alban, approximately 1, feet long and feet wide.
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The plaza is flanked by ceremonial platforms reached by broad flights of steps, the whole symmetrical and almost perfectly oriented north and south. The complex is thought to have been the religious and administrative center of a city that covered 25 square miles on the neighboring hills and contained an estimated 40, people. The Zapotecs started constructing Monte Alban possibly as early as B. Then, for unknown reasons, they abandoned the site, except as a burial ground. About years later the Mixtecs, traditional enemies of the Zapotecs, took over Monte Alban to bury their dead, which they continued to do there until the Spanish Conquest in the 16th century.
With the remains of one prominent Mixtec chieftain they tucked away those of his executed companions—a quaint custom of the times. This grave, called Tomb 7, uncovered in by the Mexican archeologist Alfonso Caso, concealed an immense hoard of Mixtec treasure—gold, silver, pearls, turquoise, jade.
Most of the Mixtec treasure is now on display in Oaxaca's Regional Museum. Coronado guided us around the ruins, pointing out glyphs—engraved symbolic figures—representing numbers and dates of conquests. In the southwest corner of the plaza stands a temple with a number of large stones lying around its base. Engraved on the stones are curiously distorted figures, dating from the earliest period of Monte Alban. An imaginative historian, lacking positive identification, called them the Dancers, and the name has stuck.
The statistics: feet high, feet in circumference.
The Ruins of Monte Alban Near Oaxaca are a UNESCO World Heritage Site
It dominates the Spanish Colonial church behind it. Mitla, largely a Mixtec construction, dates from about the 12th century; some of the buildings were still in use at the time of the Spanish Conquest. The Spaniards left the central section intact because it was cruciform.
Today a Catholic church, built of the old Mixtec stones, rests in the ruins. Mitla lacks the grandeur of Monte Alban but its detail reveals exquisite workmanship. Instead of human figures, gods or calendar dates, the buildings are covered with decorative friezes in geometric patterns. Symbolic in meaning, each design adds up to the mystic number three or a multiple thereof.
Modern international graffiti mark one wall—immortalizing the names Maria Lopez, Rene and Mick. The site received , visitors in The primary threat to this archaeological site is urban growth that is encroaching and "threatening to expand into territories that have potential archaeological value. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article includes a list of references , but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations.
Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations. December Learn how and when to remove this template message. One of the stelae known as Dancing by unorthodox positions of the characters represented.
New York: Academic Press. Partido Revolucionario Institucional. Archived from the original on Retrieved 20 March Flannery, K. In The Cloud People. London: Thames and Hudson. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology. A Study of Zapotec Imperial Expansion". New York and London: Academic Press. Journal of Social Archaeology. Retrieved November 15, National Geographic Magazine. Archived from the original on 8 July Retrieved 25 March Retrieved November Learn how and when to remove this template message.