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Melissa & Dave - Adventures at Sea

Monte Alban

After yesterday's venture in the car, no one wanted to get back in for a long drive.  So initially we decided to go see the ruins at Monte Alban tomorrow.  The weather forecast changed our minds because it is supposed to rain tomorrow.  So we pile into the car and head for the hills.

Monte Alban is just 5 miles outside of town.  When we reached the site we discovered (much to our delight) that the vendors are not allowed on the site itself.  So all the folks hawking jewelry and trinkets are lined up out front, but they can't come on the actual grounds the way they do in Chichen Itza - turning it into a complete circus.  As a result the site is very tranquil and beautiful.  We've visited Chichen Itza, climbed the pyramids at Coba, and been to Guachimontones.  We found Monte Alban the most impressive - despite Chichen Itza being a "7th wonder of the world".

We picked out our guide - a guy nicknamed Coyote.  When visiting these sites its always best to get an English speaking guide. Even with the signs being in both English and Spanish, you just learn so much more with a guide that it's worth the additional $20.


 When we got to the top of the hill, you can see from the panoramic picture below why the ancients chose this site to build... you can see the whole valley below - where the town of Oaxaca is now located.  In ancient times there was a lake there.  Monte Alban was inhabited from 500 B.C to 850 A.D. at which point it was abandoned for reasons unknown.

Before entering the actual site itself, we were greeted with a huge dust devil swirling around.  We joked that it must be some kind of warning from the gods.

The site itself is huge.  In the panorama below you can see the ball court to the far left and other pyramids in the distance.

The site has been meticulously restored to what is believed to be its original form.

They believe the site was occupied by many races because there are pictographs that are clearly showing Oriental, Mexican, and African looking people.

The site was believed to be a location for learning like a university where they studied astronomy and medicine.  In these pictographs you can see a mother giving a breach birth to a baby.  You can see her fallopian tubes as well as the baby half inside her as she is giving birth.


And in this picture you can see a man with all his internal organs.

These medical pictographs have been reproduced and placed on the site outside.  The originals are in the museum on display where they are better protected from the elements.

Our guide, Coyote, explaining the pictographs as we walk around the site.  He has a mirror in his hand that he uses as a low tech pointer.

This is the observatory building - a 5 sided pentagram.  Its orientation, turned 45 degrees off of the north/south orientations of all the other buildings at Monte Alban have caused archaeologists to suggest it was used for astronomical observations.

At one point a guy the guide knew came up with some artifacts.  They tried to tell us they were "real" artifacts we were holding.  Yeah, right.  Ok, turns out they were trying to sell them to us - despite the "no vending on site" rule.  We didn't mind though - seeing the reproductions was kind of cool anyhow.


And here are the real artifacts all safely behind glass in the museum.

This is a local tree that grows a cotton like fluff that was used in ancient times to make clothing.

Here's Dave, Joan, and Steve.  You would think this was a coordinated hat day.

When we got back to Oaxaca we wandered around town and went to get some dinner.  The town center is very sweet colonial style.

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