V(otum) S(olvit) L(ibens) M(erito)

News and stories from the world of Archaeology and its related disciplines

Greatest Zapoteca ballgame court in Atzompa restored

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Four kilometers away from Monte Alban Archaeological Zone, in Oaxaca, experts from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) restored the largest Zapoteca ballgame court found to present, which has special features are niches on its corners. The 70 meters long structure is located in Atzompa, area where Zapoteca elite of Monte Alban settled between 650 and 850 AD, and where INAH conducts exploration and consolidation tasks at 21 structures found that include another 2 ballgame courts of smaller dimensions.

The large court discovered in the 1930s is the longest in Monte Alban City, which extends over 40 meters. The presence of so many courts at Atzompa represents a mystery for archaeologists since this area was not part of the city.

Today, INAH works jointly with Oaxaca State Government in the consolidation and restoration of 21 structures, upon which Casa de Oriente and Casa de Altares outstand. Atzompa Archaeological Zone is to be opened to public in 2010, and 12 million MXP have been invested to achieve this.

Archaeologist Nelly Robles, director of the project, informed that Atzompa is to be included in the Monte Alban visit, “at present, 25 per cent of the total area that used to be residential has been explored”.

As part of the 5th Monte Alban Round Table that took place from September 2nd to 5th 2009, Robles, director of Monte Alban Archaeological Zone, mentioned that features that characterize this court, other than its 70 meters length, are the niches on its 4 corners.

“Niches were used to deposit offerings during encounters ritually fought”, she explained, adding that there are other 2 courts in Atzompa that had not been explored yet.

Oaxaca State Government has approved construction of a highway that connects Atzompa with Monte Alban to create a strategic tourist corridor that will benefit Atzompa community.

Nelly Robles informed that Atzompa was built in the last occupation stage; “architecture found here is highly worked, stone and lime used masterly, better than the work at Monte Alban Main Plaza; its conservation state is good”.

Variety of open plazas is another feature, allowing a spectacular view of Monte Alban that helped guarding the northern frontier of Zapoteca State. Quadrangular plazas surrounded by monticules function was ritual, and it was determined that buildings like Casa de los Altares and Casa de Oriente were residences probably dwelled by aristocrats.

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