Students and faculty from North Carolina State University Department of Horticultural Science are in Oaxaca for a study abroad course on Sustainability in Emerging Countries.
Here’s what a few students say about our first day at Monte Alban.
“We went to see Monte Alban first to give us background about Oaxaca and culture we are stepping into.”
“People here in Oaxaca take pride in this historic archeological site.”
“You don’t know what people are talking about until you see the significance of this place.”
“It was a good foundation for what we would see and experience.”
Monte Alban is one of those spectacular archeological sites that grasp your attention, teach about the sophistication of Zapotec leadership and demonstrate the astronomical prowess of indigenous people.
The visit there gave students an opportunity to see native plants and understand the local plant life and landscape.
As we climbed the temples and examined the plant life, saw the glyphs carved into the stone, and understood the ancient systems of water retention and cultivation, we gained a greater insight into the importance of Oaxaca as the source of corn that was first hybridized here almost 10,000 years ago and spread throughout the world.
We approached from the north side of the Monte Alban. The site is on a mountain-top between the city and the ancient ceramic making village of Santa Maria Atzompa.
The glyphs and carvings tell a story of conquest and dominance over surrounding villages, as well as the glyph language of rectangles and circles. Figures carved upside-down into the stone represented conquered leaders from local villages.
Students participating are studying agriculture, horticulture, landscape design, business, and nutrition. Each day, they have an intensive discussion with their professors about food sourcing, fertilization, bio-diversity and cultural impact on climate change.
Zapotec rulers lived high above the agricultural valley below. Humans leveled the mountain where the elite lived. The Spanish named the place Monte Alban. When they arrived the mountain was covered in trees with white blooming flowers.
Students will write a paper and receive three-credit hours toward their degree program. We have one doctoral student with us, too.