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Lambityeco was one of the principal Zapotec settlements in the Valley of Oaxaca occupied during the Monte Albán IV period (750–1000). During this period Monte Albán, which had served as the regional capital for over 1,200 years, was gradually abandoned. As its political and economic power waned, other centers in the valley such as Lambityeco, Macuilxochitl, and Jalieza increased in power and influence. This decentralization was accompanied by a low degree of formal political integration and a secularization of authority, trends that characterized the postclassic throughout Mesoamerica.

Located in the eastern arm of the Valley of Oaxaca, a little over a mile west of the modern town of Tlacolula, Lambityeco is the Period IV sector of a larger site known as Yegüih, which has more than 200 mounds over an area of about 188 acres. Lambityeco, in the northwest sector of the site, consists of about seventy mounds.

Excavations in two of the larger mounds (Mounds 190 and 195) revealed that they were elite residences. In their earliest versions, they were simple houses with a single patio. Mound 190 was reconstructed at least five times, and Mound 195 was rebuilt at least once before being converted into a pyramid. Both structures had family tombs. The tomb in Mound 195 had lifelike stucco representations of a man and a woman above the door and two stucco friezes each depicting a man and a woman in possible marriage scenes. The tomb in Mound 190 contained a large number of ceramic vessels characteristic of Period IV, carved bones, bone tools, and unfired clay vessels.

The unfired clay vessels and millions of pottery sherds on the surface suggest local ceramic production at Lambityeco, and a clay source has been identified at the site. A standardized bowl form apparently was produced on a massive, commercial scale. Another important local industry was salt production. It also seems likely that the site served an important function as a central marketplace.

See alsoArchaeology .


John Paddock, "Lambityeco," in The Cloud People: The Divergent Evolution of the Zapotec and Mixtec Civilizations, edited by Kent V. Flannery and Joyce Marcus (1983), pp. 197-204.

Richard E. Blanton, Stephen A. Kowalewski, Gary Feinman, and Jill Appel, Ancient Mesoamerica: A Comparison of Change in Three Regions, 2d ed. (1993).

Additional Bibliography

Flannery, Kent V., and Joyce Marcus. Early Formative Pottery of the Valley of Oaxaca. Ann Arbor: Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan, 1994.

Kowalewski, Stephen A. Prehispanic Settlement Patterns in Tlacolula, Etla, and Ocotlan, the Valley of Oaxaca, Mexico. Ann Arbor: Regents of the University of Michigan, Museum of Anthropology, 1989.

Marcus, Joyce, and Kent V. Flannery. Zapotec Civilization: How Urban Society Evolved in Mexico's Oaxaca Valley. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1996.

                                         William R. Fowler