18 May, 2008

Atzompa rocks!

As I mentioned on Friday, this weekend we made a visit to the site of Atzompa, which is located fairly near Monte Alban--not quite spitting distance but close enough to see from one of the higher points at the site. We started out the day a bit early, meeting up with the site director of Monte Alban--and a ton of other sites as well throughout the valley--Nelly Robles and a crew of archaeologists that worked at the site at the botanical gardens en La Iglesia Santo Domingo. While everyone else climbed into trucks Nelly hopped in with us and we were off to the site.

It was quite a drive up there, taking a half hour. We stopped nearer to the bottom of the site to check out some house structures and a magote (unexcavated mound) that appeared to be a public building given that it was a single room alone with a very wide staircase or access point. After checking out some of the structures there we climbed back in the various trucks and drove further uphill, getting out again and hiking the rest of the way to the top of the site.

Excuse the language, but the site was fucking sweet! There were magotes everywhere, and there was a really nice elite complex with a small ballcourt attached. I asked Augustin, Nelly's assistant at Atzompa, questions about the ballcourt and he just smiled at me and said, wait till you see the big one. We climbed over a few magotes and I turned--and had my breath stolen by what was a fairly large ballcourt, really well built and just gorgeous! Moving on from the ballcourt, we went to one of the main plazas that was surrounded on all sides by very large magotes and at the end one could spot another elite complex...this one the apparent site of where the rulers of Atzompa actually lived, since it had almost 20 rooms, a large patio and a very unusual curved access point or entrance.
After checking out some of the vistas that one could see from one of the larger magotes--actually a lot of the surrounding valleys including the valley in which Mitla is located-- we climbed down to our trucks and were greeted with a cooler of ice cold water. Yes! Then we got into our respective vehicles and drove to Nelly's lab. Right when we got there I saw they had a whole set-up for making and cooking tlayudas, which was sweet since it meant we were going to get lunch, how nice! We checked out the lab and saw some really cool artifacts, then headed outside for hot tlayudas and cold beer. Sat and chatted and ate for a while--I actually managed to eat 1 3/4 tlayudas and down two beers--then got the contact info for some of the archaeologists, sweet networking!

We headed home around 3:30, Meg and I passed out in the backseat. Gary and Linda stopped in Tlacolula to pick up a few things and we woke up in time to purchase breakfast items at the Pitíco. On the way back to Mitla Meg and I were laughing about my sunburn, since it was brown in the center (from previous exposure) and red on the edges where my skin hadn't seen sun before. All in all it was quite a fun and excellent day and might in the future provide me not only with some research help for my project but also some good contacts for work here in Oaxaca. Sweet!

Nelly, Augustin, Gary y Linda.

View of the first elite complex.

The largest magotes with the other elite complex located right in the center of the photo.

Oh, and the photo of me at the top. There was this one pine tree with long needles and I said to Meg..."look its like hair" so I demonstrated and she took a picture. Silly, but fun.

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