The Mixtec Gold Treasure

 
In the 1920s, Mexican archaeologist Alfonso Caso turned his attention to Monte Albán, a mountain in the Valley of Oaxaca. Decades ago, in its summit had been located rest of the Zapotec civilization that dominated the region between IV B. C. and VIII A. D., but those ruins had not been studied thoroughly.
In 1928, Caso first visited the enclave, accompanied by the Italian archaeologist Guido Valeriano Callegari. After an hour and a half of painful ascent on horseback in a dense fog, the two scholars arrived at the Great Plaza of the ancient city, a spectacular site completely filled with the remnants of ancient temples and palaces. Enthusiastic, Caso made an effort before the governor of Oaxaca to build a road to the mountain, while he was raising funds and a good team of scientists to begin the excavation of that monumental complex.
 
 The Streets of Old Oaxaca - Av. Morelos & Manuel Garcia Vigil. 1900s

The Streets of Old Oaxaca - Av. Morelos & Manuel Garcia Vigil. 1900s

 

The Discovery

Finally, in 1931, with his own funds and the support of some institutions, Caso began his great adventure in Monte Albán, which would last 18 seasons. The initial objective of the team - formed, among others, by Martín Bazán, Juan Valenzuela, Eulalia Guzmán, Ignacio Marquina and María Lombardo, wife of Caso - was to study the signs of the Zapotec steles and excavate the Great North Plaza.
They began to work on the platform of the North Platform, but Caso soon became interested in the dozens of mounds that dotted the site, suspecting, rightly, that they were tombs. He soon discovered that most of them were looted and there were only bats inside; but there was one that drew his attention especially as he discovered the walls of a small temple next to it.
The next day, January 6, 1932, Caso had to go to Oaxaca to collect the wages of the laborers, so he left Valenzuela in command of the excavation. He returned at eleven in the morning with his wife and found Valenzuela waiting for him with a big smile and a necklace of jade with which he surrounded his neck. Words were not needed; the three of them ran to the tomb where the necklace and three jade earmuffs had been found, so polished that they could be read through them, as well as a trumpet made of pure sea-shell. Immediately after that, they found traces of a stairway and two layers of stucco, which made them suspect that they were on the roof of the tomb.
 
 Discovery of the Tomb 7 - In the image, Alfonso Caso inside the tomb 7 of Monte Albán. Notimex / AFP

Discovery of the Tomb 7 - In the image, Alfonso Caso inside the tomb 7 of Monte Albán. Notimex / AFP

 

An Ancestral Legacy

 
During the discovery of Tomb 7 of Monte Alban, the discovery of several goldsmith techniques of the Mixtec culture, have shaped the style of our state, based on the Mesoamerican tradition to work the metals, handcrafting their jewels with designs and emblems that have seduced the whole world due in large part to the sacred designs that are embodied in the necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings.
The consecration of our ancestral legacy means keeping the sacred fire burning, watching over the flame, keeping values and virtues alive; to learn from the experience of those who preceded us on the path of life; remember them with honor, respect and dignity. Without clinging to the ashes, just to continue the path with the fire burning. In it lies the richness of human culture, of the wonderful diversity that conforms our species.
 
 Pectoral of Mictlantecuhtli (1250 - 1521 A.D.). The technique with which it was made is lost wax and with false filigree. One of the best known pieces of Mixtec filigree jewelry found in Tomb 7, Monte Albán.

Pectoral of Mictlantecuhtli (1250 - 1521 A.D.). The technique with which it was made is lost wax and with false filigree. One of the best known pieces of Mixtec filigree jewelry found in Tomb 7, Monte Albán.

ArtistryPatricia Benfield