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        Zapotec Material Culture

        The Zapotec civilization rose to power about 2500 years ago in Mesoamerica. Much of what historians and archaeologists know about the Zapotec culture is from the study of the wealth of artifacts and archaeological sites the Zapotec left behind. Review the artifacts in this Media Gallery. Pay close attention to what these artifacts and archaeological sites suggest about Zapotec culture. Be sure to also read the essay and complete the activities in the worksheet that you will find in the Support Materials.

        Zapotec pottery vessel of a priest, 4th century.

        This photograph shows a Zapotec brown pottery vessel formed in the likeness of a Zapotec priest holding a sacrificial knife. The artifact dates from about the 4th century.

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        Aztec statue of Zapotec-Aztec bat god, 300-900 A.D., Royal Scottish Museum, Edinburgh

        This photograph is of a statue formed in the likeness of the Zapotec god Camazotz, a bat god. The cult of Camazotz began around 100 BCE among the Zapotec Indians in what is the modern-day Mexican state of Oaxaca. The cult of Camazotz worshiped an anthropomorphic monster with the body of a human, head of a bat. In Zapotec culture, the bat was associated with night, death, and sacrifice.

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        Central square and view of archaeological site of Monte Alban (Unesco World Heritage List, 1987), Mexico, Zapotec Civilization

        This photograph shows the central square of the ancient Zapotec mountain-top city of Monte Albán. The temples and other structures in this city show that the Zapotec had great stone working skill and organizational abilities.

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