Lambityeco Archaeological Site
Six miles (10 km) farther east of Dainzu, Lambityeco (10 a.m.–5 p.m. daily) is on the right, a few miles past the Teotitlán del Valle side road. The excavated portion, only about 100 yards square, is a small but significant part of Yegui (Small Hill in Zapotec), a large buried town dotted with hundreds of unexcavated mounds covering about half a square mile. Salt-making appears to have been the main occupation of Yegui people during the town’s heyday, around A.D. 700.
The name “Lambityeco” may derive from the Arabic-Spanish alambique, the equivalent of the English “alembic,” or distillation or evaporation apparatus. This would explain the intriguing presence of more than 200 local mounds. It’s tempting to speculate that they are the remains of cujetes, raised leaching beds still used in Mexico for concentrating brine, which workers subsequently evaporate into salt.
In the present small restored zone archaeologists have uncovered, besides the remains of the Valley of Oaxaca’s earliest known temazcal, a number of fascinating ceramic sculptures. Next to the parking lot, a platform, mound 195, rises above ground level. If, after entering through the gate, you climb up its partially restored slope and look down into the excavated hollow in the adjacent east courtyard, you’ll see stucco friezes of a pair of regal, lifelike faces, one male and one female, presumably of the personages who were found buried in the royal grave (Tomb 6) below. Experts believe this to be the case, because the man was depicted with the symbol of his right to rule—a human femur bone, probably taken, as was the custom, from the grave of his chieftain father.
Mound 190, sheltered beneath the adjacent large corrugated roof about 50 yards to the south, contains a restored platform decorated by a pair of remarkably lifelike, nearly identical divine stucco masks. These are believed to be of Zapotec rain god Cocijo (see the water flowing from the mouths). Notice also the rays, perhaps lightning, representing power, in one hand, and flowers, for fertility, in the other.
© Bruce Whipperman from Moon Oaxaca, 5th edition