10 km. south of the city of Oaxaca, on the road to Zaachila, are the ruins of the Convent of Cuilapan. Set in a wall of the convent is the inscribed stone seen here. It shows the date 1555 A.D., the year in which the convent was founded. To the left of the date is what appears to be a capital A intertwined with an O, this is the Mixtec year sign.

At the time of the spanish conquest this part of the Oaxaca valley was probably under Mixtec rule, although a few centuries earlier the whole area was dominated by the Zapotecs from their capital at Monte Albán. Above the AO (year) sign are 2 horizontal bars and through the sign is what appears to be an arrow or dart. Each bar denotes the number 5 and the arrow is actually a reed. Putting all this together we have the Mixtec year 10 reed. Many variations of the mesoamerican calendar system have now been correlated to the Spanish calendar of the modern era and 1555 CE would be 10 reed in the Mixtec system. The year sign to the right, 10 flint, is equivalent to the year 1568 CE.

Other views of Cuilapan: Click for enlargements