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Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Mitla

Our next stop was Mitla, which in Náhuatl means 'The place of the dead'. It’s said to be the principal ceremonial Zapotec site outside of Monte Alban, and one of the most important sites in the state of Oaxaca.


The explorations of the site which have taken place indicate that Mitla was initially occupied in Zapotec times, around the same time as Monte Alban, however its believed that most of the significant development took place after the downfall of Monte Alban. There is evidence of human occupation since year 0 to 200. Since 1000AC and until the invasion of the Spanish, Mitla was an extremely important settlement. It is thought that it functioned as a center of power for the Zapotecs of the valley. For some archaeologists, Mitla is an example of some of the most intricate Zapotec architecture.


The archaelogical zone consists of five groups of monuments, Grupo del Norte; Grupo de las Columnas; Grupo del Adobe o del Calvario; Grupo del Arroyo and Grupo del Sur.
The group of Adobe o Calvario y del Sur, which were constructed earliest, form plazas surrounded by palaces in the style of Monte Alban.


In the northern group, las Columnas and el Arroyo, administrative buildings and palaces for individuals of high stature in society can be found. The palaces are characterized by the complex mosaics that cover the walls. The carvings were the most impressive aspect of Mitla. The different designs are so intricate and the care that has was taken to make sure they the designs are perfectly complex is astonishing.


"La Fortaleza" is located to the west of the settlement, and was used as a defensive walled city by the Zapotecs to defend against invasion.
When the Spanish arrived and unfortunately for the local culture, conquered the region, they imposed their ideas and religion on the indigenous natives. The destroyed the main monument and rebuilt their own church using the same stones. The church in the photo below is built on the foundations of the original monument.

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