Pre-Colombian History of Oaxaca
The region of Oaxaca was inhabited way before the Spaniards arrived and founded Oaxaca city. In fact, it was this pre-colombian history that laid the foundations for Oaxaca's fascinating cultural diversity. Initially, the Zapotecs moved up from their more southern settlements and dominated the Valles Centrales (or Central Valleys). The remains of their hard work and way of life can be admired in numerous archeological sites dotted about the valleys, most notably Mitla and their majestic capital city of Monte Albán which was at its economic peak between 300 and 700 AD. Agriculture was the main form of survival during this period and the Zapotecs lived well off the richness of the land.
Oaxaca's history begins to become more convuluted once the Mixtecs settled there during the 13th century. Whilst they proceded to take over Zapotec sites like Monte Albán, there was a relatively peaceful coexistence between the Zapotecs and Mixtecs in Oaxaca, whose rich indigenous cultures gradually intertwined over the years.
Late 15th Century: Enter the Aztecs...
However, when the Aztecs arrived at the turn of the century Oaxaca's history saw its most dramatic changes yet. The Aztec empire was ruled from the powerful city of Tecnochtitlán and during this time Monte Albán and other old settlements lost their value. The base built by the Aztecs in the central valley was known as Huxyacac which under the Spanish rule which followed would eventually become 'Oaxaca'.