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Monte Albán, Mexico
Three valleys radiate from the city of Oaxaca ... In these Valles Centrales, all within day trip distance of Oaxaca city, you'll find pre-Hispanic ruins, craft-making villages, and thronged country markets. The people are mostly Zapotec.
The ancient Zapotec capital Monte Albán (i.e., White Mountain) stands on a flattened hilltop, 400m above the valley floor [of Valles Centrales], just a few kilometers west of Oaxaca. The site was probably occupied around 500 BC, probably by Zapotecs from the outset. The city was at its peak from about 300 to 700 AD, when the main and surrounding hills were terraced for dwellings, and the population reached around 25,000. Most of what we see now dates from this time. Monte Albán was the center of a highly organized, priest dominated society. Many buildings were plastered and painted red, and talud-tablero architecture indicates influence from Teotihuacán. The Valles Centrales were extensively irrigated and held at least 200 other settlements and ceremonial centers. Monte Albán's people ate tortillas, beans squashes, chilies, avocados, and other vegetarian fare, plus some deer, rabbit and dog ... Between about 700 and 950 AD, the place was abandoned and fell into ruin. [- from Lonely Planet Mexico.]
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