Monte Albán: Batres and Caso

Monte Albán has existed for thousands of years. It was known to the natives as Danibaan, or “Sacred Mountain.” It received its new alias from being named after 17th century Spanish nobleman Don Montablan. It had been occupied in succession by the Olmec, Zapotec, and Mixtec. It is most famously known for its time under Zapotec rule between 500 B.C. and 800 A.D. (Pre-Classic period through the Classic period). It was a theocratic society with about thirty thousand people. It reached its zenith during the 6th century through its trading relations with other major cities in Mesoamerica. Similar to its rise, it’s believed that its downfall occurred during the 9th century due to the fall of its trading partners and overcrowding.

Leopold Batres was a Mexican archeologist. He was the first person to lead a serious excavation of Monte Albán in 1902. His efforts brought attention from around the world and the Mexican government to work on preserving the site. During his time there, he removed many Dazante slabs so that he could later study them. His findings and opinions were recorded in his book Explorations to Mount Albán, Oaxaca, Mexico, which was published twenty years after his expedition. In his book, he recorded information on the architecture, writings, and drawings, culture, and geography of the site.

Alfonso Caso was a Mexican archeologist. He was the second person to excavate at Monte Albán, from 1931 to 1958. He is the archeologist who is most famously known for working on the site due to producing the most amounts of archeological discoveries. He is most famously recognized for discovering Tomb Seven. Tomb Seven showed proof to scholars of the occupation of the Mixtec in the city after the Zapotec had abandoned it. The tomb also produced several polychrome frescoes, scriptures, and artifacts. With the discovery of the artifacts, he was able to decipher the Mixtec codices.

Through the efforts of Leopoldo Batres and Alfonso Caso, the site of Monte Albán was brought to the world’s attention for its beauty and historical significance. Their efforts revealed that Monte Albán rose to become the greatest city in the Zapotec region during its zenith. It was also revealed that it was one of the biggest necropolises in Mesoamerica. The abandonment by the Zapotec is still a mystery to this day, but with the help of Batres and Caso, scholars have been able to shine some light on the mysterious Zapotec.