Abstract and Keywords
Oaxaca formed the core of a distinct zone within Mesoamerica often called the southern highlands. Covering some 2,000 square kilometers, the Oaxaca Valley is the geographic center of and largest open area in the southern highlands. At the valley's center sits Monte Albán, one of Mesoamerica's earliest urban settlements. North and west of the Oaxaca Valley lies the Mixteca Alta, a region dotted with numerous small valleys that measure in the low hundreds of square kilometers. A third region of importance is Lower Río Verde. The Río Verde River valley on the Pacific Coast is created by the confluence of the Verde and Atoyac rivers that drain the Mixteca Alta and Oaxaca Valley. This article summarizes research in these three regions and describes the emergence of ranked societies and the formation of states.
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