Atzompa! Uncovering the newest digs in Oaxaca…

When you tell people who know Mexico you went to Oaxaca they always ask if you saw Monte Alban and Mitla. For years, those two ancient sites have been seen as the ultimate Zapotec places to visit. 

Atzompa, Dave Miller's Mexico, Oaxaca Archeology, Casa Oriente

Casa De Oriente, Atzompa, Oaxaca

Perhaps no more!

Soon people will also be asking if you’ve been to Atzompa, a recently uncovered site overlooking the Etla Valley, so new to visitors that it is still free to visit.

Located about 30 minutes outside of the city center, Atzompa was a separate satellite city of Monte Alban founded between 650 and 850 C.E. Currently there is a Casa de Oriental, Casa de Altares, and a central shrine that is bigger than what you’ll see at Monte Alban.

Ball Court, Atzompa, Dave Miler's Mexico, Oaxaca

The Ball Court of Atzompa

There are also three ball courts, one of which is the largest in the Zapotec Empire. Scholars believe, based on its size, that the Atzompa ball court, rather than the one at Monte Alban, was the most important stadium in the area.

All told, Atzompa is not a place just to visit. It is a place to experience. For me, it is every bit as spectacular as Monte Alban, and there will be more to come as archeologists are continuing to work the site. Ball courts, residences, altars, and even an oven once used to fire pottery are already on magnificent display.

Atzompa, Dave Miller's Mexico, Oaxaca

Know before you go… First off, if walking is not for you, neither is Atzompa. The parking area is about 100 meters from the entrance. Then you have another 100 – 150 meters, all uphill to the first level of this multilevel, multitiered site. Take water with you as there is currently no snack bar or water available. Finally, take plenty of sunscreen as there is precious little shade available.

When you leave… After a day hiking around, you’ll be hungry. One of the best places to eat and try out out some of the best tlayudas in Oaxaca is literally around the corner, Tlayudas San Jacinto. Go and enjoy a great lunch, an ice cold beer and time with your friends after a great morning at Atzompa, one of the newly uncovered treasures of Oaxaca.

Dave Miller's Mexico, Atzompa, Oaxaca

The pottery oven at Atzompa

Dave Miller's Mexico, Atzompa, Oaxaca

The soon to be visitors center at Atzompa

Dave Miller's Mexico, Atzompa, Oaxaca

6 replies

  1. Astounding, I want to experience that site! When we compare what was happening in the ANE and Europe at the same time it is amazing what was taking place in Meso America. The engineering prowess and vast amounts of physical labor that went into developing these sites are humbling indeed. Thanks for sharing Dave!

  2. Oh, that view looking out over the Etla valley! I’ve been going there since they first opened the site and most of the time the only other people we see are the workers. Muy tranquilo…

    • Also we learned about the Mesoamerican ball game. This was the first team sport in history began over 3500 years in Mesoamerica. Cities, ceremonies, and daily life revolved around this exciting sport. But the game was more than just competition. The survival of the players and the spectators depend on the outcome. This was a life and death competition, not just a game. Scary and exciting, I guess…

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