San José Mogote is a pre-Columbian archaeological site of the Zapotec, a Mesoamerican culture that flourished in the region of what is now the Mexican state of Oaxaca. A forerunner to the better-known Zapotec site of Monte Albán, San José Mogote was the largest and most important settlement in the Valley of Oaxaca during the Early and Middle Formative periods (ca. 1500-500 BCE) of Mesoamerican cultural development.
Situated in the fertile bottomlands of the Etla arm of the Valley of Oaxaca, the site is located two blocks from the community museum in the present-day village of San José Mogote, which is about 7.5 miles (12 kilometers) northwest of the city of Oaxaca (Evans 2004:122).
San José Mogote is considered to be the oldest permanent agricultural villages in the Oaxaca Valley and probably the first settlement in the area to use pottery. It has also "...produced Mexico’s oldest known defensive palisades and ceremonial buildings (1300 B.C.), early use of adobe (850 B.C.), the first evidence of Zapotec hieroglyphic writing (600 B.C.), and early examples of architectural terracing, craft specialization, and irrigation (1150-850 B.C.)."
Archaeological investigations conducted over the previous two decades (e.g., by Kent Flannery and Joyce Marcus) have built an emerging picture of San José Mogote as an early center of Zapotec culture, which was later supplanted or overtaken by Monte Albán. From its beginnings as a cluster of family dwellings San José Mogote grew to incorporate monumental public structures indicative of a larger and complex political center that ruled over a number of subsidiary settlements in the Valley of Oaxaca, receiving tribute and services from the region. For as-yet unclear reasons, its status diminished and it became a tributary to the new Zapotec political center and capital, Monte Albán.
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... with the emergence of Monte Albán as the area's main city, San José Mogote's 1000 years of dominance ended, and it was relegated to the status of a ... Some of the artifacts from the San José Mogote archaeological site may be viewed in the town of San José Mogote’s Community Museum, which is located in the ...
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