Monte Albán: Ball Court and Tomb 56--page 1 (of fifteen pages)

Ball court: 100 BCE-200 CE; Tomb 56: 300-500 CE

See map.


Ball court shaped like capital "I"

Located on the eastern edge of the Acropolis, essentially filling in a corner, this Classic period ball court measures about 41 by 24 meters. Unlike the Mayan ball courts, this Zapotec example appears never to have had rings attached to the walls. At Monte Albán five ball courts were constructed testifying to the importance of this game among the Zapotec culture. The game may have been important in everyday lives as well as in ritual practices.
The sloping walls of the court were covered with a thick mixture of lime creating a polished surface so when the ball landed there, it would slide back to the floor level where the players were located. Players apparently hit the rubber ball with hips, elbows, and knees.

Stair leading down to the playing level


The outside upper perimeter of the ball court


Right: carved stone solar disks decorating the top of the first vertical walls of the outside of the ball court


Residence and Tomb 56

Located just outside the ceremonial center, this large house (palace) and tomb were constructed of stone, mud, adobe, lime and sand. The architecturally advanced tomb had walls of cut stone and an arched roof. Niches in the wall were for offerings.

Continue to page 2.

Works consulted or quoted:
Andrew Coe. Archaeological Mexico. Emeryville, CA: Avalon Travel Publishing, 2001.
Michael D. Coe and Rex Koontz. Mexico: From the Olmecs to the Aztecs. Fifth Edition. London: Thames & Hudson, 2002.
Nelly M. Robles Garcia. Monte Albán: History, Art, Monuments. Mexico: Monclem Ediciones, 2004. [official guide]
INAH. Signage at the site.
Mary Ellen Miller. The Art of Mesoamerica: From Olmec to Aztec. Third Edition. London: Thames and Hudson, 2001.

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© 2009 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. They are not available for commercial purposes.