Zapotecs Build Monte Albán (Great Events from History: The Ancient World, Prehistory-476)
Article abstract: Inhabitants of Monte Albán, one of the earliest and biggest cities in the Western Hemisphere, pioneered the construction of astronomically oriented public buildings; the use of adobe, stone masonry, and lime plaster; the development of a 260-day ritual calendar; and the carving and painting of hieroglyphs.
Summary of Event
Monte Albán, founded by the Zapotecs, was the first and largest urban center in the Oaxaca Valley of Mexico, reaching an extension of 12 square miles (31 square kilometers). The Y-shaped valley is 60 miles long by 15 miles wide (97 by 19 kilometers) and is surrounded by forested mountains. It has an altitude of 5,000 feet (1,524 meters), with little rainfall and a permanent dry condition. The Salado River and its tributaries provide irrigation for agriculture.
The entire urban complex, at the summit of a hill 1,320 feet (402 meters) high, covers 45 acres (18 hectares). Outcrops of sedimentary rock provided construction material for its many residences, palaces, temples, ball courts, stelae, and other structures. Less than 1 percent of the total area has been excavated. The Zapotec name for the metropolis is still unknown. Its current name derives from the conquistador Diego López de Monte Albán, who received this area as part of his encomienda (commissioned) territory in the sixteenth century. The city’s central location on a hilltop implies its dominant...
(The entire section is 1518 words.)
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