Monte Alban archaeological site located on a spectacular mountaintop setting about 16 km (ten miles) west of Oaxaca city was the capital of the Zapotec civilization from 500 B.C. to 800 A.D.
The archaeological zone of Monte Alban, belonging to the Zapotec culture, is one of the most important in the area of Oaxaca. Its cultural development and monumental architecture has become representative of the region, and the Mesoamerican culture area. The prehispanic capital is located at the summit of a hill that rises in the southwest of Oaxaca City. It is located at 1948 meters above sea level (400 more than the level of the valley of Oaxaca).
The prehispanic name of Monte Alban has not been identified with precision. The most closely related descendants of the Zapotecs mention a hill that was known as Dhauya quch o Dauyacach, or the “Hill of the Sacred Stones”. On the other hand, the Mixtecs know it as Yucucui, or “Green Hill”. At the beginning of the 17th century, this spot came to be known as Monte Alban, owing to the fact that at that time, the lands belonged to a Spaniard with the surname of Monte Alban or Montalban.