The Zapotec lived in the Valley of Oaxaca, the largest expanse of relatively flat land in southern Mexico. Around 500 b.c.e. they built
Monte Albán on the flattened top of a mountain in the center of the valley, the first urban center in Mesoamerica. Monte Albán covered
an area of 2.5 square miles  and its population grew from 5,000 to 25,000. It boasted the first centralized political system and
population divided into social classes. Lasting for about a 1,000 years it became the dominant power in southern Mexico, ruled by
nobles and strong military. Lacking in a strong agricultural base, their economy was based on the collection of tribute from
surrounding groups. By the 7th century a.d. most of its power was lost through competition and unsustainable population growth.
Other characteristic features of Zapotec civilization can be found in the "periods following Monte Albán's founding, including a
characteristic two-chambered temple architecture, a market system, a rubber-ball game, and the human-like funerary vessels called
Zapotec urns."
 Read more: Zapotec Civilization - pè, (Cocijo), Urnas de Oaxaca
Between 200 - 900 a.d. Monte Albán acquired a Classic style representative of Mesoamerican groups, most likely through conquest .
Population growth, writing, architecture and art flourished, centering around the noble class and the hierarchy of Zapotec gods.
The Zapotecs: Princes, Priests and Peasants, Joseph W. Whitecotton, (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1977)
Zapotec Civilization Map, courtesy [left]]
Monte Albán Map courtesy [above]
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