Zapotec State

Thousands of years before the Aztecs, a native people called the Zapotec founded one of Mexico's earliest civilizations in the Valley of Oaxaca (wa-HA-ka). The "golden age" of the Zapotec state was from A.D. 200-700. They were the first Central Americans to build a state ruled by nobles. Zapotec nobles also filled the highest levels of the priesthood and the highest ranks of the army.

Population: more than 500,000
Golden Age of the Empire: A.D. 200-700
Location: Valley of Oaxaca, Mexico
Capital: Monte Alban
Common foods: maize, beans, squash, turkey, nuts, berries
Cool fact: The Zapotec used a ritual calendar with 260 days that had names like frog, water, or earthquake. People were named after the day on which were born.

Image credits: AMNH Charles Spencer.