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The Lords of Lambityeco

The Lords of Lambityeco: Political Evolution in the Valley of Oaxaca during the Xoo Phase

Michael Lind
Javier Urcid
Illustrations by Elbis Domínguez Covarrubias
Robert Markens
Marcus Winter
Cira Martínez
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  • Book Info
    The Lords of Lambityeco
    Book Description:

    The Valley of Oaxaca was unified under the rule of Monte Albán until its collapse around AD 800. Using findings from John Paddock's long-term excavations at Lambityeco from 1961 to 1976, Michael Lind and Javier Urcid examine the political and social organization of the ancient community during the Xoo Phase (Late Classic period).Focusing on change within this single archaeological period rather than between time periods, The Lords of Lambityeco traces the changing political relationships between Lambityeco and Monte Albán that led to the fall of the Zapotec state. Using detailed analysis of elite and common houses, tombs, and associated artifacts, the authors demonstrate increased political control by Monte Albán over Lambityeco prior to the abandonment of both settlements. Lambityeco is the most thoroughly researched Classic period site in the valley after Monte Albán, but only a small number of summary articles have been published about this important locale. This, in combination with Lambityeco's status as a secondary center-one that allows for greater understanding of core and periphery dynamics in the Monte Albán state-makes The Lords of Lambityeco a welcome and significant contribution to the literature on ancient Mesoamerica.

    eISBN: 978-1-60732-042-5
    Subjects: Sociology, Archaeology, Anthropology, History

Table of Contents

  1. foreword
    (pp. xvii-xxii)
    Arthur A. Joyce

    The site of Lambityeco in the Tlacolula arm of the Valley of Oaxaca is well-known to archaeologists and tourists alike for its impressive high-status residences as well as its altar complex with plaster friezes depicting several generations of ruling couples whose remains were discovered interred in a family mausoleum below the altar. Lambityeco was the focus of archaeological excavations and surface survey directed by John Paddock of the Institute of Oaxaca Studies from 1961 to 1976, followed by years of laboratory analyses. This impressive volume by two of the lead researchers on the project, Michael Lind and Javier Urcid, synthesizes...

  2. preface
    (pp. xxiii-xxviii)
    Michael Lind and Javier Urcid
  3. chapter one Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    This study is about cultural change, specifically political evolution in the Valley of Oaxaca during the Xoo phase (ca. 650–850 CE). It also encompasses economic change insofar as it relates to political evolution. The data for this study come from the archaeological site of Lambityeco, a secondary center during the seventh to ninth centuries CE, when Monte Albán was the primary center in the Valley of Oaxaca. Lambityeco provides a perspective from a secondary center, some 25 km¹ from Monte Albán, into the rise of the capital of Classic period Zapotec civilization to its highest peak during the Xoo...

  4. chapter two Lambityeco in the Valley of Oaxaca
    (pp. 15-48)

    The Valley of Oaxaca, located in the southern highlands of Mexico, was the heartland of ancient Zapotec civilization. Outside the valley proper, Zapotec civilization extended into the mountainous Sierra Juárez to the northeast, along the Tehuantepec River drainage to the Pacific Coast of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in the southeast, and through the Miahuatlán region to the Pacific Coast in the south (Fig. 2.1, inset). Zapotec is not a dead language. In 1970, there were nearly 250,000 native speakers who occupied the Valley, Sierra, Isthmus, and Miahuatlán regions (Ayre and Varese 1978: ii) and, according to the 2000 Mexican Federal...

  5. chapter three Lambityeco: The Economic Basis
    (pp. 49-82)

    Lambityeco’s economic role as an important Xoo phase district center in the Tlacolula arm of the Valley of Oaxaca may best be understood by first assessing its ecological setting. The lands surrounding Lambityeco are, for the most part, poor for agriculture, especially when considered in conjunction with the exceedingly low rainfall in the area. Kowalewski (1982:155–157) has noted that, in the absence of some type of irrigation, an area must receive at least 700 mm of rainfall per year to ensure an adequate harvest of corn. He cites records showing that the area surrounding Lambityeco receives less than 700...

  6. chapter four Site Structure and Community Organization
    (pp. 83-108)

    Blanton’s (1978) intensive survey of Monte Albán revealed patterns in the distribution of Xoo phase mounds that suggested that the ancient urban center may have been organized into fifteen barrios, each with its own local marketplace, temple, and civic center. Determining whether smaller and less populous district centers, such as Lambityeco, were similarly configured or manifested different patterns of community organization requires an investigation of the structure of the site (Bawden 1982).

    Lambityeco is located 2 km west of the present-day market town of Tlacolula (see Fig. 2.3). The Pan-American Highway, built in the 1940s, passes through the northern part...

  7. chapter five Excavations in Mound 195 Sub: Structures 195-6, 195-5, and 195-4
    (pp. 109-140)

    The objectives of the Lambityeco excavations combined a problem orientation with salvage work and a commitment to public awareness. The problem orientation concerned the chronological position of the ruins that John Paddock had determined from surface remains to be Monte Albán IIIB-IV (Xoo phase). Paddock pointed out that, prior to 1961, excavations in the Tlacolula arm of the valley had uncovered remains of Monte Albán II (Nisa phase) at Caballito Blanco, Transición II-IIIA (Tani phase) at Loma Larga, and Monte Albán V (Liobaa and Chila phases) at Yagul and Mitla. The Lambityeco excavations, therefore, would provide important information on a...

  8. chapter six Structure 195-3
    (pp. 141-170)

    Structure 195-3 was the final building constructed on Mound 195 Sub and the structure most completely explored in excavations. It covered an area of about 434 m² and represents a complete renovation of Structure 195-4. With the exception of the main west entry, which could not be explored because of later constructions that covered it, Structure 195-3 was fully exposed in excavations, making it possible to draft a complete floor plan (Fig. 6.1). Like Structure 195-4, Structure 195-3 included two patios—southeast (SE) and northeast (NE)—each with rooms arranged around it. Each of these separate sectors of the house...

  9. chapter seven Tomb 6
    (pp. 171-232)

    In the preceding two chapters, we discussed the stratigraphic position of Tomb 6 and its relation to Structures 195-5, 195-4, and 195-3. To briefly summarize, Tomb 6 was built initially as a single-chambered tomb in association with Structure 195-5 (see Figs. 5.9 and 5.10). The main chamber was added in association with Structure 195-4 (see Figs. 5.11 and 5.13), and the portrait heads were probably attached to the façade in association with Structure 195-3 (see Figs. 6.7 and 6.8). The roof of the main chamber was destroyed by a hole dug through the altar to place a final burial in...

  10. chapter eight The Houses of Tomb 3 and Tomb 4
    (pp. 233-264)

    In the process of excavating trenches across the north platform of System 195 to locate its northern limits, the remnants of two houses of commoners were found—the House of Tomb 3 and the House of Tomb 4 (Fig. 8.1). Apart from sections of their patios and the tombs associated with them, nothing remained of the rooms surrounding the patios of these houses. It was clear, however, that the houses had been leveled to build the north platform of System 195, which took place in association with the construction of Structure 195-2. These two houses of commoners, then, were probably...

  11. chapter nine Mound 195: Structures 195-2 and 195-1
    (pp. 265-316)

    Structures 195-2 and 195-1 were the final residences built atop Mound 195. Structure 195-2 was the first to be erected and it served as a temporary residence pending completion of Structure 195-1, which was the final residence. The sequence of events leading up to the building of Structure 195-2 begins with activities surrounding the abandonment of Structure 195-3SE.

    Several features in the archaeological remains of Structure 195-3SE correspond to those final activities. These features relate to events taking place just before abandonment and accommodations made during the first stages of construction of Mound 195, which was to cover the houses...

  12. chapter ten Political Evolution during the Xoo Phase and the Collapse of Monte Albán
    (pp. 317-344)

    The sequence of elite structures in Mound 195 and a comparison of their remains with the ethnohistoric model of Zapotec political organization at the time of the Conquest provide insights into the nature and evolution of the political system at Lambityeco. A sequential integration approach to these elite structures can identify ongoing changes in the material remains that reflect changes in the political system at Lambityeco that led up to its collapse toward the middle of the ninth century CE. Likewise, the sequence of structures provides material evidence of changing relationships between Lambityeco and Monte Albán. These changes will be...

  13. appendix 1. Calibrated Radiocarbon Dates for the Late Classic and Postclassic Periods in the Valley of Oaxaca, Mexico
    (pp. 345-364)
  14. appendix 2. The Lambityeco Mounds
    (pp. 365-378)
  15. appendix 3. Moundless Xoo Phase Structures at Lambityeco
    (pp. 379-380)