Zapotec An indigenous people of Mexico, primarily in S Oaxaca and on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Little is known of the origin of the Zapotec. Unlike most native peoples of Middle America, they had no traditions or legends of migration, but believed themselves to have been born directly from rocks, trees, and jaguars. The early Zapotec were a sedentary, agricultural, city-dwelling people who worshiped a pantheon of gods headed by the rain-god, Cosijo—represented by a fertility symbol combining the earth-jaguar and sky-serpent symbols common in Middle American cultures. A priestly hierarchy regulated religious rites, which sometimes included human sacrifice. The Zapotec worshiped their ancestors and, believing in a paradisaical underworld, stressed the cult of the dead. They had a great religious center at Mitla and a magnificent city at Monte Albán, where a highly developed civilization flourished possibly more than 2,000 years ago. In art, architecture, hieroglyphics, mathematics, and calendar the Zapotec seem to have had cultural affinities with the Olmec, with the ancient Maya, and later with the Toltec. Coming from the north, the Mixtec replaced the Zapotec at Monte Albán and then at Mitla; the Zapotec captured Tehuantepec from the Zoquean and Huavean of the Gulf of Tehuantepec. By the middle of the 15th cent. both Zapotec and Mixtec were struggling to keep the Aztec from gaining control of the trade routes to Chiapas and Guatemala. Under their greatest king, Cosijoeza, the Zapotec withstood a long siege on the rocky mountain of Giengola, overlooking Tehuantepec, and successfully maintained political autonomy by an alliance with the Aztec until the arrival of the Spanish. The Zapotec today are mainly of two groups, those of the southern valleys in the mountains of Oaxaca and those of the southern half of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec; together they number some 300,000. The social fabric of Zapotec life—customs, dress, songs, and literature—though predominantly Spanish, still retains strong elements of the Zapotec heritage, particularly in the present-day state of Juchitán. See Helen Augur, Zapotec (1954); Michael Kearney, The Winds of Ixtepeji (1972); Beverly Chinas, The Isthmus Zapotecs (1973).
- Reconstructing Maya and Zapotec Political Organization
Analyzes the political organization of the Maya civilization during the classic period.
- Zapotec History
Supplies a chronology of Zapotec history from 500 BC to 1500 AD. Describes the large Zapotec archeological site of Monte Alban.
- High Pitch in Zapotec
Download a PDF file of a linguistics article about the sociolinguistic role of high pitch in Zapotec.
- Zapotec Tours & Oaxaca Tours -Food of the Gods Festival
Tour operators offer special excursion packages during this festival of regional Oaxaca cooking.
- Zapotec Tours
Oaxaca tour group organizes educational trips focusing on the culture, cuisine and art of the region. Features chocolate and weaving tours.
- Zapotec Tours & Oaxaca Tours - Guelaguetza Festival
Tour operators offer tickets to the dance performance during the Guelaguetza Festival and explain the annual event.
- Ancient Scripts of the World - Zapotec Script
Offers an introduction to the Zapotec hieroglyphs, with historical background and images.
- Zapotec Dictionaries
Links to Zapotec-Spanish glossaries for two different Zapotec dialects. Read an abstract of the glossaries in English.
- Summer Institute of Linguistics - Zapotec
Offers an overview of the Otomanguean language, Zapotec. In English and Spanish.
- High Pitch as a Mark of Respect in Lachixio Zapotec
Download a PDF version of a technical paper on the sociolinguistic importance of pitch in Zapotec.
- Zapotec - Britannica.com
Looks at the society and culture of the Zapotecs, a middle American Indian population living in eastern and southern Oaxaca in Mexico.
- Zapotecs - People From the Clouds
Read a brief history of the Zapotecs of Oaxaca, Mexico or view photographs of Zapotec carved statuettes and architectural structures.
- Zapotecs - Mesoamerican History
Details the history and accomplishments of high civilization attributed to the Zapotecs of Oaxaca, Mexico during the Classic period.
- Zapotecs - Pictures of Monte Alban
View several photographs of Zapotec ruins located at the archeological site of Monte Alban in Oaxaca, Mexico.
- Zapotecs - Resource Guide
Provides access to various articles and study resources related to the culture, art, civilization, architecture and history of the Zapotecs.
- Zapotecs - Mesoamerican Encyclopedia:
Briefly describes the early civilization of the Zapotecs of western Mexico, thought to have been the first to develop the Mesoamerican calendar.
- Zapotecs of Oaxaca
Details the historical importance of weaving and the weaving traditions of Zapotec Indians residing in Oakxa, Mexico.
- Zapotecs - Brief Essay
Briefly describes the religious beliefs and history of the Zapotecs, a Mesoamerican culture dating back to 200 BC.
Visit the gallery of colorful animals, insects and figures carved from wood by Zapotec alebrije artists in the Oaxaca region.
- Mound J Astronomical Observatory
Features a photo and a detailed description of this Zapotec ceremonial site on the summit of Mount Alban, in present-day Mexico.
- Cinco de Mayo - Bilingual
Get to know Benito Juarez, a full-blooded Zapotec, and read an account of the 1862 battle. Includes a bibliography.
- Ancient Mesoamerican Civilizations
Univ. of Minnesota Anthrop. Dept. offers resources for the study of the Mayan, Aztec, and Zapotec civilizations. Find a map of the Maya area.
- Wind River
Trader of traditional Native American collectibles, such as dream catchers, rawhide rattles, and Zapotec rugs.
- Bibliography on Mesoamerican Peoples
Search an annotated bibliography of works related to Aztec, Maya, Olmec, Zapotec, Mixteca, and Purepecha history and archaeology.