We took a Sunday drive early enough to arrive at Monte Alban before the buses of sight seers took over the grounds. For 15 minutes we had this entire set of ruins to ourselves. It was completely quiet and easy to imagine that we were explorers seeing something that no one else had discovered.
This site is studied as one of the economic and social epicenters of the Zapotec society for a thousand years. What does that mean? These guys leveled a mountain top to build this incredible city high enough that they could see any bad guys approaching from quite a distance. Some of the first written language has been detected on glyphs (carved into large stones) around the site. This group of people were connected with other regional civilizations closer to Mexico City (Teotihuacan) through trade. There is a large building in the middle of the complex that was used by the priests (scientists of the day) to study astronomy. And then, like many of the ancient civilizations in Mexico, the city declined and deceased without explanation.
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