What was the secret to the success of the Mexican town of Monte Albán?

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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS—According to a statement released by the Field Museum, researchers Linda Nicholas and Gary Feinman investigated possible reasons for the rapid growth and longevity of Monte Albán, a metropolis in southern Mexico that was founded around 500 BC and flourished for some 1,300 years. years. First, Nicholas and Feinman found that land well suited to agriculture was unevenly distributed in the Oaxaca Valley, making it unlikely that the site of Monte Albán was chosen for its agrarian potential. Archaeological studies of the area conducted over a long period with Richard Blanton and Stephen Kowalewski indicate that most of the inhabitants lived on flattened terraces built on the slopes of the hills. The detached houses consisted of several rooms arranged around a patio, Feinman said. These houses often shared a front retaining wall and drains that separated the residences, suggesting that neighbors cooperated with each other. The city also seems to lack palaces, elaborate burials, and monuments associated with despotic rulers. Taken together, Feinman said, it’s unlikely people were forced to live in the city. Rather, they may have been drawn to its defensible hilltop location, its more collective form of government, and the ability to trade goods in its markets, he explained. Read the original scientific article on this research in Frontiers in political science. For more on an artifact from the suburb of Monte Albán, see “Deconstructing a Zapotec Figurine”.

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