Atzompa Archeological Site: Monte Alban and more excavation

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If you thought Monte Alban was incredible…wait til you see Atzompa…

Fabulous views of Oaxaca city and the central valleys and mountains surrounding…current excavations (‘tho you can’t get too close)…a 1,200 year-old unopened tomb…

A 20 minute drive to the town of Atzompa – in your own car, a cab or a colectivo – then a short trip up the mountainside and you arrive at a gate.  The guard tells you to park over to the side and that you can walk on up the dirt road towards the archaeological site.  (They do let cars with older or handicapped folks drive further up.) The views are fabulous, the road dusty and the sun BLAZING.

On my last trip up, most of the site was open for walking around: there were many more “explanatory plaques” (so you’ll know what you’re looking at); you could watch small current excavations and see into a reconstructed 1,300 year old horno (a kiln for firing pottery – in a pit in the ground)…  AMAZINGLY, the same type that is being used in the village today.  Present day Atzompa makes most of Oaxaca’s green-glazed pottery…in daily use in most kitchens.

INAH archaeologists (Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) recently released information about an exceptional effigy vessel (a ceramic urn made in the form of, a person, animal or god), found a few months ago in a mortuary temple at the Atzompa Archaeological Zone in Oaxaca.

The ancient city of Atzompa, was one of the centers of the ancient metropolis of Monte Alban (Oaxaca’s most famous archeological site – a 20 minute bus ride from the city). The ceramic piece with human characteristics is approximately 1,200 year-old, and has been recovered nearly intact with its red, brown and grayish green coloring present.  The find is exceptional in that the elaborate costume of the character is represented in detail, consisting of a layer of feathers, tassels, necklace, and earrings. He was probably known as Tremor ‘8 ‘ (from fear?? or earthquake?).

They also found another smaller red vessel with the representation of a goddess, and the skeletal remains of two individuals. Another highlight of the effigy vessel is his 34 cm high headdress, which is represented as a reptile with feathers and surrounded by open jaws. (photo & this text thanks to: http://tlatollotl.tumblr.com/#me)

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As of April 2013 the site is still not completed, but is open to visitors (who will need to walk a little more than usual to an archaeological site).

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DIRECTIONS TO THE ATZOMPA ARCHEOLOCICAL SITE: by car (we’ll also be glad to tell you how to get there WITHOUT a car)

  • From the Hotel Azucenas, go down Calle M. Aranda/Union to the t-junction at Morelos
  • Go R…this street will change names to Division Oriente, go about 20 blocks (10 minutes) until a major intersection (2 story Chedrahui supermarket on the Left
  • Go Left and follow large green signs to Monte Alban…you’ll go over a bridge and continue straight until a large green sign for Atzompa pointing to the Righ
  •  This road will lead right into the center of the town of Atzompa
  • Just past the Mercado de Artesanias) on the Right (the cooperative that sells about 50 local potters’ wares – well worth going to
  • Take the next Right and follow about 10 minutes…this road leads directly to the site entrance.

Vehicles must be parked at the entrance.  There is no entrance fee yet, but there are bathrooms available!  It’s quite a hike up to the site…about 25 minutes if you hike straight up to the highest point.  No shade!  Take hats, sunblock, good walking shoes.

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• April 10, 2013

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