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The Silk Route - Tlacolula & Yagul, Mexico
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Mexico: Tlacolula & Yagul
July 2016

Tlacolula Yagul
Yagul

 

The colourful Sunday market at Tlacolula is vast and one of the best we visited.

Yagul is an atmospheric small Zapotec site with a multi-roomed palace, many tombs, a huge ball court and spectacular views.

Tlacolula

Tlacolula market
Tlacolula market

 

The Sunday open air market (tianguis) in Tlacolula was very colourful - everything for sale from live turkeys to tables! This is one of the oldest markets in the region.

Tlacolula market
Tlacolula market
Tlacolula market
Tlacolula market
Not a clue what these are - beans maybe?

Tlacolula market
Grasshoppers - chapulines.
Tlacolula church
Inside the church.
Tlacolula market

The church, Iglesia de la Asuncion de Nuestra Senora, is a typical 16th century building with an ornately decorated Baroque interior, and some graphic depictions of saints.

Tlacolula market
Tlacolula market
Tlacolula market
Tlacolula market
Tlacolula market
Tlacolula market
Seeds
Tlacolula market
Tlacolula market
Tlacolula market
Tlacolula market
Tlacolula market

 

Tlacolula market
Tlacolula market



Tlacolula market

 

Many people come from the surrounding towns and villages and it is an opportunity to socialize as well as to trade and stock up the larder. The typical dress of the local women included plaited hair, tied with coloured ribbons and bows.

 

 

 

Yagul

YagulAncient pictographs near Yagul.
Yagul

 

About 35 km east of Oaxaca, Yagul is an atmospheric hilltop site with some mysterious aspects to its ruins. The views are tremendous.

Yagul means "tree" or "old stick" in the Zapotec language.

Yagul
The nine peaked mountain behind which the sun set on the shortest day. The Zapotec associated the number 9 with death.

Its peak period was 750 - 950 AD, roughly the same period as Atzompa, though, like Monte Alban, there is evidence of people living here since 3,000 BC. Prehistoric caves in the area have provided evidence of the evolution of man from a hunter-gatherer to a settled cultivator.1

The site is known for its large number of patios, a huge ball court and a maze-like area of rooms. The entrance to some of these rooms had been closed off by new walls leaving rooms completely isolated with no entrance. The reason for this practice is unknown.

Yagul
Plan of Yagul from the site information board. It was rather faded so I've added a translation of the key.

The higher part of the city functions as both an administrative and religious centre, as well as there being palaces and defensive areas, set out on a series of terraces.

Yagul
Patio 4
Triple tomb beneath the raised platform in the centre with open tomb entrances either side.
Yagul
Frog sculpture representing a rain or water cult. Patio 4.
Yagul
Tomb entrance, Patio 4.

 

Yagul
Another tomb entrance, Patio 4.

 

There are several tombs in the plazas, for what must have been important people to be buried in such a prestigious place. Ordinary people lived lower down the slopes where there were also agricultural terraces. Water was sourced from the Rio Seco which forms the limit of the site.

Patio 4 has a number of tombs, including a triple of three T-shaped tombs. All three had been looted in prehispanic times.

Yagul
The I-shaped Ball Court.
Note the marker in the centre of the playing area.
Yagul

Yagul has the largest ball court in the Oaxaca Valley.

 

Yagul
Ball court looking north west.
Yagul
Patio 1 with a building similar to the Council Chamber on the west side.
Yagul
Entrance to the rectangular Council Chamber where the rulers of the city met to discuss city administration.

The internal walls of the Council Chamber once had three layers of stucco and, like the floor, were painted red.

Yagul
Decorative stonework lines the street outside the Council Chamber.
Yagul
Street outside the Council Chamber with decorative stonework above the kerb.
Yagul
Patio in the Palace of the Six Patios, with tomb.
Yagul
Yagul

The Palace of the Six Patios is a real labyrinth, with blocked entrances, tombs and columned halls.

Yagul
Yagul
Yagul
Yagul
Tomb entrance in the Palace of the Six Patios - the protruding stones were used as steps.
Yagul
A wall has been built to block an entrance.
Yagul
Yagul

 

We climbed the hill a little way to the north of the site from where the views over the site and beyond into the valley and across to the mountains are spectacular.

Yagul
Yagul
Remains of a building above the main excavations.

There are foundations and the remnants of a wall. Also curious indentations in the rock surface.

Yagul
Circular indentations in the rocks.

 

 

Yagul
The fortress on a height above the site.
Yagul
Remnants of red among the orange.
Yagul

Even higher to the east is the site of the fortress, which we didn't climb up to - far too hot!

On our way back down we had a better look at the columned rooms in the Palace of the Six Patios before leaving.

Yagul
Two columned spaces in the Palace of the Six Patios.
Both have central grass squares and if these reflect the original layout, the columns may have supported the sloping roof of a portico around an open courtyard.
Yagul

 

Yagul is a lovely site to explore, with plenty of interest without being overwhelming - and the views are amazing.

There are some great cacti here too - candelabra, prickly pear (nopal), agave.

Yagul
Yagul

 

References

  1. UNESCO: Prehistoric Caves of Yagul and Mitla in the Central Valley of Oaxaca