Saturday, June 14, 2008

Monte Alban

Last Sunday, our group wound our way up above the city to Monte Alban. It was once a grand city where the elite of the Zapotecas lived from about 500b.c. to 750a.d. The place is amazing, and the people were actually very advanced for the time. They studied medicine, understood astronomy, had a writing system, attempted new forms of architecture, and grew many different kinds of foods. I think that approximately 80,000 people lived in or near the city. As I walked around and took a lot of photos, I tried to imagine what the place would be like bustling with people, shops, markets, etc. It was raining when we visited, which made the place seem even more "mystical" and the rain was actually a blessing because there was hardly anyone else visiting that day.

This is one of the buildings where for the first time in this region, the people went beyond just function. They were creative and artistic in their design.

This is one of the first visions you see after you make your way through the gates and up a little hill into Monte Albon. I just loved the fog and the huge trees...although the weather and vegetation would have been different when the Zapotecas lived here.

This is where the game called Pelota was played. It had religious significance for the Zapotecas and was played in cycles according to their study of the stars. There were two teams each with about 5 players. The teams would work together to get the ball through a hoop (not picutred). I imagine it was a fierce competition because the winners sacrificed the losers, and offered their hearts to the gods.

This is called an estela. Most archeologists and historians believe it is a picture of someone who needed medical treatment and/or was a prisoner held by the Zapotecas. There are many of these stone tablets around the site. It was how they passed their history (both their personal life history and medical knowledge) onto the following generations to learn from.


Anonymous said...

You could teach a history class on this stuff!! jenn :)

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