Mysterious Mesoamerican city of Monte Alban turned out to be a utopia

(ORDO NEWS) — Researchers from the Field Museum have uncovered the secret of the settlement of the ancient city of Monte Alban, which was built in the south of modern Mexico 2500 thousand years ago. According to scientists, this city was actually a huge commune in which the entire population acted together.

The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Political Science and briefly reported on the museum’s website. The city of Monte Alban was founded around 500 BC. It is known that it grew very quickly and for 1300 years remained the largest metropolis in its region.

However, the mystery for scientists until now was what exactly the founders of the city were guided by when they chose a place for it. All other cities of Mesoamerica were built near large sources of water and fertile land for growing crops. But in Monte Alban it was nothing. It was built on top of a hill and well fortified.

In a new study, archaeologists have suggested that the form of government may have been a feature of this city.

Two scenarios were considered. Under the first, the rule was to belong to an authoritarian leader, a despot, who literally drove the entire population into the city. However, in the course of the study, scientists doubted that the townspeople could be forcibly kept for 1300 years in a city that did not differ in wealth.

The results of the excavations, however, prove that the city has been growing and developing throughout its existence. He did not become the most powerful force in his region, but he definitely played a prominent role in the politics of that time.

Therefore, scientists have focused their attention on the second scenario, in which a collective form of government could exist in the city. Conducted field work, as well as work with archives as a whole, confirmed this version.

Scientists managed to recreate a broad picture of how the townspeople lived and how their settlement patterns changed over time. It turned out that the bulk of the townspeople lived on flat terraces that were built on the slopes of the hills. There were separate houses with several rooms around the courtyard.

The city had an advanced sewerage system for those times. She literally connected all the houses built very close to each other. The excavations proved that the townspeople jointly monitored this system, because if the water washed away the retaining wall of one of the houses, then neighboring buildings could collapse after it.

It was also possible to establish that the inhabitants of Monte Alban were economically interdependent. Their external trade relations were insignificant, but the internal exchange was very developed.

It was a risky internal environment in which handicrafts were exchanged for food. This is also indicated by the fact that no large warehouses for food storage were found in the city.

The high degree of cooperation between households in Monte Albán was reflected to some extent in its political organization.

In this regard, the local society differed markedly from much more autocratic peoples, such as the Mayan people. Scientists believe that in Monte Alban there was a collective form of government, that is, power did not belong to a small group of people, as in neighboring city-states.

This, for example, is indicated by the complete absence in the city of public buildings pointing to the rulers. There are no royal palaces here, no bas-reliefs with texts about rulers and their images.

And all non-residential public buildings, temples and squares found by archaeologists turned out to be open and accessible to everyone. Also, scientists did not find any signs that the first inhabitants were forced to move to this city forcibly.

By the way, a study of the remains of the ancient townspeople showed that they had excellent health, ate better than their neighbors and lived much longer than them. In a word, for more than a thousand years this city could claim to be a model of a real embodiment of utopia – an ideal social system.

“This city, with its collective rule and relatively just government, has existed for more than a millennium,” concludes study co-author Gary Feynman. “However, when this system collapsed for some reason, the population of the city declined sharply. autocratic rule.”


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