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A Walking Tour of Monte Albán


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Los Danzantes or The Dancer's Gallery
Dancer (danzante) from Monte Alban

Dancer (danzante) from Monte Alban

Nicoletta Maestri

The west side of the Main Plaza is marked by a row of buildings, including Building IV, Building M, L and the famous "Gallery of the Dancers". The Dancers Gallery was at one time a wall that connecting Building L, which dates to the first phase of Monte Alban, with Building M. The walls consisted of a series of carved slabs with bas-reliefs of human figures. Most of the persons have their eyes shut, and their genitals cut. Some of them are hunchbacked, have deformed body parts, and show the sign of having been sacrificed through heart extraction.

The figures are organized on horizontal and vertical rows; about 20 of them are still visible in their original location. Archaeologists found a total of more than 100 of these carved monuments reutilized in other areas of the site.

The most accepted interpretation is that these figures represented war captives. However, it has also been suggested that they represent shamans or people with some magic powers. Some of these figures include glyphs and numbers that have been interpreted as calendar dates and names.

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