Getting here
When to visit
Tomb 7
About Food Map Contact

History of Monte Albán

500 B.C. - First phase of settlement of what was previously abandoned land, with population moving from nearby settlements to take up residence in the new city.

200 B.C. - The defensive walls around the sides of the city are constructed particularly on the north and western sides. In addition the carvings known as Danzantes are first made. Writings in Zapotec alphabet or hieroglyphs are carved into Building L, seen to day on S12 and S13

100 B.C. - Monte Albán develops over the next two hundred years into the largest city of the Mesoamerican period.  With around 17 thousand people living, worshiping, and working in the city it can be imagined that it was a thriving and exciting place to live.

50 A.D. - Main Plaza is constructed on flattened maintain top, not just the open space but also the temples, palaces and other structures around the edge are made or enhanced. Native stone covered with white lime plaster.

200 - A growing power over the region emanates from the city and rulers of Monte Alban become rulers not just of this hill top city, but of the area now known as Oaxaca up to and including the foothills.

500 - The power of the city start to decline, and over the next 500 years gradually weakens as power shifts to smaller centers of population.

1000 - The city is abandoned to the jungle and is not seen again until modern times.

1806 - During a series of investigations for the Spanish Crown by Belgian solder/explorer Guillermo Dupaix the site is identified as a location where ancient Indian artifacts and surveyed the ruins.  His were the first descriptions of the danzantes.

1859 - A more complete description of the site is made by J.M Garcia including a sketch of the great Plaza.

1894 - Excavations start under the leadership of William Henry Holmes for the Field Columbian Museum, and later for the Smithsonian.

1902 - The Mexican explorer and archeologist Leopoldo Batres starts more details investigations which are published 20 years later in his important work "Exploraciones de Monte Albán"

1931 - Alfonso Caso starts investigations and restoration work bringing the buildings up to their original scales.  During this period the discovery of the gold artifacts of Tomb 7, north of the main plaza, occurred.

1971 - The Settlement Pattern Project lead by Richard Blanton conducts detailed measurements and investigation of the site.

1987 - Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site