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Yagul, an archaeological site located 23 miles from Oaxaca City and 2 miles from the market town of Tlacolula in the Valley of Oaxaca, Mexico. Yagul was excavated by Ignacio Bernal, Lorenzo Gamio, and John Paddock during the 1950s and 1960s. Although the site shows evidence of more ancient occupations, most of the excavated and consolidated remains date from the Post-Classic period (ca. a.d. 900–1521). The site was occupied at the time of the Spanish conquest, and the people of present-day Tlacolula refer to it as the pueblo viejo (old town).

Yagul sits atop a mountainous spur whose peak supports an ancient fortress. On the flanks of the spur was the administrative and ritual center of the ancient city, and on the lands at its base were the houses of common people. Excavations in the center of the city uncovered the Palace of the Six Patios, a large residence with a floor plan similar to those of the nearby palaces of Mitla. A narrow street ran between the palace and the council hall, whose walls were decorated with grecas (mosaics) similar to those of Mitla. A ball court similar to one at Monte Albán lies near the palace. Also near the palace is Patio 4, a plaza with four mounds around it and an altar at its center. Mound 4E, on the east side, is a temple. In front of it is a large boulder sculpted to resemble a jaguar or frog. More than thirty tombs have been excavated at Yagul. Tomb 30 in Patio 4 had panels of false grecas decorating it and contained fine Mixteca polychrome pottery vessels. The Yagul excavations served to define the period (ca. a.d. 900–1521) that followed the collapse and general abandonment of Monte Albán and generated a lively controversy concerning proposed Mixtec conquests of Zapotecs in the Valley of Oaxaca during this time.

See alsoArchaeology; Art: Pre-Columbian Art of Mesoamerica.


Ignacio Bernal, "The Mixtecs in the Archeology of the Valley of Oaxaca," in Ancient Oaxaca, edited by John Paddock (1966), pp. 345-366.

Charles Wicke, "Tomb 30 at Yagul and the Zaachila Tombs," in Ancient Oaxaca, edited by John Paddock (1966), pp. 336-344.

Ignacio Bernal and Lorenzo Gamio, Yagul: El palacio de los seis patios (1974).

Marcus Winter, Oaxaca: The Archaeological Record (1989), pp. 119-121.

                                        Michael D. Lind