Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/539

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


 

XXVI.

 

THE WONDERFUL PALACES OF MITLA.

 

I TRUST my readers will pardon my frequent allusions to antiquarian research; but, craving the modern Mexican's pardon, the old vastly predominates, in certain portions of Mexico, over the new.

Ruins without end are scattered over these hills and throughout the alluvial plains, indicating the vast number of inhabitants that must have been at one time, or in successive ages, concentrated here. Those spanning the valley of Etla have been already mentioned; but the great aboriginal mounds are equally numerous in that of Ejutla, while immediately above the city of Oaxaca are the extensive mounds and fortifications of Monte Alban, that proclaim the former existence there of a wonderful civilization. These, though examined by me, our space forbids me to more than mention, but in the valley of Tlacolula, twenty miles southeast from Oaxaca, is the crowning achievement of those ancient peoples, in the palaces of Mitla, the former abode and the places of burial of the Zapotec kings. No ruins in Mexico, and probably none in America, are more elaborately ornamented, in their peculiar style, than these.

Lying between two great groups entirely different in the architecture of their original buildings, this Mitla assemblage of stone structures possesses peculiarities belonging neither to those of Yucatan, to the northeast, nor to those of Central Mexico, to the northwest. Though from its geographic position it should form a connecting link between the two great systems, yet it does not, but stands out peculiarly conspicuous for its singularities of architecture and ornament.

When our party found itself within twenty miles of Mitla, and with a couple of days' leisure, it decided to go there at once.