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Monte Albon

Monte Alban is a large archaeological site in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. The name "Monte Alban" means "White Mountain" in the Spanish language; the Zapotec name was Danipaguache, meaning "Sacred Mountain". The Aztecs knew it as Ocelotepec, or "Jaguar Mountain". This sacred Mesoamerican city is on an artificially flattened mountain top some 400 meters above the city of Oaxaca. Monte Albán was built over a period of over 2,000 years, starting about 900 BC, by the Zapotec people. The early art shows Olmec influence. The most impressive building period was during the Mesoamerican Classic era, from about 550 CE to 1000 AD. About 1300 AD, the Zapotec were driven out of the site and surrounding area by the Mixtec people. The Mixtec made further additions to Monte Alban until they in turn were conquered by the Spanish Conquistadores in 1521, at which time Monte Albán was abandoned. Building J has also invited much speculation, due to its unusual shape and orientation.

Monte Alban
Monte Albon Ball Court Ball Court
Monte Alban has many step-pyramids, temples, elite tombs, and a court for playing the Mesoamerican ballgame. There are also free-standing sculptured stelae, and large bas-relief carved panels in some of the buildings. The site is a popular tourist destination for visitors to Oaxaca and has a small museum. A minimum of two hours should be allocated to view the museum and ruins. Trails at the site are used by joggers, hikers, and birders.
The oldest carved stones at Monte Albon are the so-called "Danzantes" (literally, dancers), featuring drawings of people in contorted and twisted poses. The building also features large carved slabs depicting upside-down heads, which Caso called "conquest slabs" depicting vanquished enemies.Although the notion that they depict a dance is generally discredited now, there is still little agreement on what exactly the figures represent, but many archaeologists think that the "dancers" are representations of tortured war prisoners. Some of the original stones can be viewed in the museum at the site.

Guillermo Dupaix investigated the site in the early 19th century. J. M. García published an account of the site in 1859. A. F. Bandelier visited and published further descriptions in the 1890s. The first large-scale archaeological project of the site was done in 1902 by Leopoldo Batres. Eighteen years of more extensive excavations began in 1931 under Alfonso Caso. Despite such detailed work, much of the large site, over 80% of Monte Alban has never been excavated.
Monte Albon Danzantes
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