Zapotec

The Zapotec were a MesoAmerican society that lived in southern México.

Their civilization dates back to around 500 BCE and was centered in the ancient city of Monte Albán.

The Zapotec developed a calendar. They also created a system of writing that used glyphs (picture characters) to represent each syllable of their language. This system of writing is believed to be one of the oldest in MesoAmerica.

The Zapotec religion was polytheistic and archaeologists believe they participated in ritual human sacrifice to feed their gods.

In the early 1500s, the Zapotec tribe was defeated by the Spaniards. Over the next 200 years, they took part in uprisings against the new colonial powers. Modern descendants of the Zapotec still live in Oaxaca today.

Text by Maisie Bornstein & Lindsay Clark.
Painted ceramic urn from Monte Albánapotec, photo by Luis Garcia.