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Oaxaca History

The story of Mexico is old and long. Throughout the country, a variety of civilizations would rise to prominence at different times in different areas. Archaeologists have found evidence of human habitation as far back as 50,000 BC. Agriculture and communal living developed by 1500 BC. The high point of civilization in ancient Mexico was during the period between 200 BC and 900 AD, during what is referred to as the Classic Period.
During the Classic Period, cities and religious centers were built throughout Central Mexico,Oaxaca History the Yucatan and Guatemala. These cities were as grand as any city in ancient Europe.
The area comprising the Mexican State of Oaxaca was the site of one of the first cities of the Classic Period. The ancient city of Monte Alban is close to the modern city of Oaxaca, about 350 miles south of Mexico City. It was built by the Zapotec people, who were among the first civilizations to develop a 365-day calendar and a primitive form of writing. The city had pyramids, temples, markets and large populations of people. However, by 900 AD, the city had been abandoned. There are many theories as to the reason or reasons that led to the city’s abandonment, but nothing is known for sure.
Shortly after Monte Alban was deserted, the Mixtec people arrived. Although the city had been abandoned, the Zapotec people continued to live in the area. The new arrivals were welcomed and intermixed with the Zapotecs. This new culture is best known for their jewelry and the historical records they created.
In the late 1400’s the more aggressive Aztecs arrived, however they were unable to completely dominate the area. One hundred years later, the first Spaniards arrived, eventually controlling the area just as they controlled the rest of Mexico.
Oaxaca reflects the indigenous portion of Mexico. It is the Indian Mexico, with the largest population of indigenous people of any Mexican state. More people here speak indigenous languages than anywhere else. Although Spanish is the primary and official language, Zapotec is the dominant Indian language.
During the 1920 revolution against Spain, Oaxaca remained loyal not to Mexico, but to Spain. Unlike other areas in Mexico under the Spaniards, the Indian villages had managed to retain their autonomy, (control over themselves) and therefore saw no reason to revolt against the Spaniards.
Despite not joining in the revolution, two of Mexico’s greatest leaders came from Oaxaca, Benito Juarez and Porfirio Diaz.
Today Oaxaca is one of Mexico’s poorest states. The area remains a land of small towns and villages. The economy is primarily agricultural and the land is held in common by the people with local leaders making the daily decisions.

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