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Middle to Late Formative. Monte Alban & the Zapotecs. Mexico and Maya Area, 1000 B.C.–1 A.D. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/alban/hd_alban.htm. View of Monte Alban. http://www.mines.edu/fs_home/jsneed/courses/LISS.380-83/LISS.381/resources/sites/monte_alban/images/img0006/index.shtml.

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middle to late formative

Middle to Late Formative

Monte Alban & the Zapotecs

mexico and maya area 1000 b c 1 a d
Mexico and Maya Area, 1000 B.C.–1 A.D.


view of monte alban
View of Monte Alban


early monte alban
Early Monte Alban
  • Period I: 500 - 200 BC
    • The most prominent Zapotec site in the Valley of Oaxaca during the Late Formative period was Monte Albán.
    • This site is located on a hill cluster that rises prominently over the juncture of three valley arms. Although there is evidence of occupation at this strategic hilltop by 500 BC, it was during the period 500 - 200 BC that the site experienced rapid growth.
  • Period II: 200 BC - AD 100
    • Building J was constructed during the next period, Monte Albán II, which spans the years 200 BC - AD 100.
    • The exterior of this unusually shaped building was decorated with more than 50 carved stones known as Conquest Slabs.
    • These slabs appear to function as a list of places that either paid tribute to Monte Albán or that had been conquered by the site.
mound j
Mound J
  • Is designed in the shape of an arrow, pointing southwest, while the other buildings of Monte Alban were aligned with the cardinal points.
  • Mound J has a vaulted tunnel, a stairway on the northeast side and slabs incorporated into the walls.
  • Glyphs on the building denote places, and some had calendric notations.


later monte alban
Later Monte Alban
  • Period IIIa: AD 100 – 400
  • One of the most striking characteristics of the art of Monte Albán IIIa is the representation of Teotihuacanos on monuments at Monte Albán.
  • Teotihuacan influence during this time period also can be seen in the presence of imported ceramics from the Valley of Mexico and local ceramics done in a Teotihuacan style.
  • However, in contrast to the "Oaxaca Barrio" at Teotihuacan, there is no known equivalent ethnic enclave of Teotihuacanos at Monte Albán.
  • Equally striking during Period III are the tomb murals, such as those from Tombs 104 and 105, which were located beneath small palace structures at the site.
teotihuacan influence
Teotihuacan Influence
  • The Estela Lisa, or Monument 9, from the South Platform depicts a procession of four individuals who proceed toward a figure who is wearing a typically Zapotec headdress.
  • The four individuals, however, wear costumes, carry implements, and are identified by glyph-like tags that are distinctly Teotihuacano.
  • http://www.utexas.edu/cofa/a_ah/dir/precol/monte_alban.htm
late and terminal classic
Late and Terminal Classic
  • Period IIIb - IV: AD 400 – 800
    • By AD 700, Monte Albán was in decline, and a new type of stone monument made its appearance in the region.
    • This was the genealogical register, which documented marriages between important men and women from various sites in the Valley of Oaxaca or traced the birth and life events of elite individuals.
    • Unlike the earlier monumental Danzantes or Conquest Slabs, these genealogical registers were small and obviously meant to be read from close-up.
  • Period V: 750-1520 A.D.
    • During the later phases the Valley of Oaxaca participates in a pan-Mesoamerican reorganization of social structures and the public areas of Monte Albán itself are abandoned.
    • The hill-sides and base of the hill continue to be occupied and used for high-status burials.
plaza con d
Plaza con’d


estimated population
Estimated Population
  • During the earliest phase, it is estimated that around 5000 people lived in the area.
  • Then, the population of the Valley increases to nearly 15,000 with more than half of the increase occurring within a 20 km radius of Monte Albán.
  • “These trends continue throughout Monte Albán Late I with the Valley as a whole growing to an estimated population of more than 50,000 people, more than a third of which (17,000) lived at Monte Albán and two thirds (33,000) of which lived within 20 km of the site.”


  • The Danzantes, associated with Building L at the southern/ceremonial end of the site, are the earliest sculpture known from Monte Albán.
  • The Danzantes are flat stone slabs carved with the depiction of humans who are portrayed in postures typically associated with humiliation & degradation.
  • Some figures display evidence of genital mutilation, heart extraction, or other forms of torture.
  • An early phase of Building L, partially buried beneath a later version of the structure, demonstrated that at least some of the Danzantes were placed on the façade of Building L in alternating vertical and horizontal rows.
  • Some of the figures also were accompanied by hieroglyphic texts that appear to provide dates, names, and places of origin.
sculpture of the bat god or jaguar late formative
Sculpture of the Bat God (or Jaguar?)Late Formative


building housing a bird late formative
Building housing a bird (Late Formative)


support in shape of vertebral column late formative
Support in shape of vertebral columnLate Formative


Clay figurine of a woman wearing headdress and shawl similar to those worn by traditional woman in Mexico today.Middle Classic.


tomb 7
Tomb 7
  • Post-Classic: 1200-1500 A.D.
  • Contained several probably upper class male skeletons and their rich garments and offerings totaling about 200, including necklaces, earrings, rings diadems and canes, most of which were made of precious materials, many of which came from distant regions.
  • These included gold, silver, copper, obsidian, turquoise, rock crystal, coral bone and ceramic.


gold pectoral from tomb 7
Gold Pectoral from Tomb 7


entrance to tomb 104
Entrance to Tomb 104


inside of tomb 104
Inside of Tomb 104