Fretwork and Friezes: The Architecture of Mitla


About the Institute and Exhibit Program

Founded in 1924, the Middle American Research Institute (M.A.R.I.) at Tulane University strives to promote greater understanding of the vibrant and diverse cultures of Mesoamerica, the area encompassing much of Mexico and Central America.

The Institute stewards an extensive collection of textiles, artifacts, and ethnographic materials and an archive of letters, field notes, maps, and photographs gathered during field projects and given by generous donors. M.A.R.I. endeavors to make these collections visible and accessible to researchers, students, and the general public through exhibitions, workshops, symposia, and scholarly publications.

M.A.R.I. interns have the opportunity to work with and research the Institute’s archival and artifact collections. The culmination of their hard work is an online exhibit available through Tulane’s library website. These exhibits cover a wide range of topics showcasing the people and material culture of Mesoamerica.


Fretwork and Friezes: The Architecture of Mitla

Mitla is a Mixtec-Zapotec archaeological site located in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. The Zapotec were the early builders of the site, while the later-arriving Mixtec were responsible for much of the architecture remaining today, which serves as a physical representation of cultural syncretism. Mitla’s architecture is characterized by low, rectilinear masses and relatively few pyramidal structures. The most remarkable feature of the site is the sheer expanse of its elaborate stone friezes.


Creation Date: Spring 2019

Acknowledgements: The exhibit was designed by Archives Intern Caroline Griffis and supervised by Erin Patterson, M.A.R.I. Archive Manager.

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