I summarize recent archaeological work in Oaxaca, Mexico, with a focus on questions central to world prehistory: the origin and collapse of complex societies. Monte Albán was the capital of an emerging civilization in the southern highlands of Mexico during the second half of the first millennium B.C. Soon after the foundation of the ancient city, there is evidence for state formation and a political expansion into regions outside the Valley of Oaxaca. Centuries later, Monte Albán went into decline, giving way to the competing small polities found throughout Oaxaca at the time of the Spanish conquest. Since the late 1960s, our knowledge of these changes has been transformed by study of Oaxaca's pre—Monte Albán past, regional settlement surveys, and processual model building. Evolutionary... and historical perspectives allow for significant refinement of current debates surrounding the rise and fall of complex societies in Oaxaca.