Albán is a large pre-Columbian
archaeological site 10km outside Oaxaca.
The site is atop an artificially-leveled ridge located on a low
mountainous range rising above the plain
in the central section of the
Valley of Oaxaca.
Besides being one of the earliest cities of Mesoamerica, Monte
Albán's importance stems also from its role as the
socio-political and economic center for close to a thousand years.
Founded toward the end of the Middle Formative period at
500 BC, Monte Albán had become the capital
large-scale expansionist society that dominated much of the
Oaxacan highlands and interacted
regional states such as Teotihuacan to the north.
The city had lost its political pre-eminence by the end of the Late
Classic (ca. AD 500-750) and soon thereafter was largely abandoned.
The ancient Zapotec name of the city is not known, as abandonment
occurred centuries before the writing of the earliest available
The derivation of the site's present-day name is unclear, and tentative
suggestions regarding its origin range from a presumed corruption of
a native Zapotec name to a colonial-era reference to a
soldier by the name Montalbán or to the Alban Hills of
I had not even heard of Monte Albán before today.
We climbed this platform ...
... and I was blown away with the size of the ancient
plaza in front of us ...
...the plaza occupied a vast area where the Zapotec
civilization had completely levelled the hillside.