The Olmec people are believed to have occupied a large part of modern-day Southern Mexico. The Olmec civilization is what is known as an archaeological culture. This means there is a collection of artifacts thought by archaeologists to represent a particular society.
Mesoamerica extends from central Mexico through Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and northern Costa Rica. It was home to Pre-Columbian civilizations (pre-1492), including the Olmec, Maya, and Aztec.
Olmec civilization arose along the Gulf Coast of southern Mexico about 1200 B.C., in an area that the Aztecs later called Olman, “The Rubber Country.” There, quick streams flowed into large rivers, with easily cultivated soil and bountiful forests providing sustenance.
The name “Olmec” means “rubber people” in Nahuatl, the language of the Nahuas, and was the Aztec Empire term for the people who lived in the Gulf Lowlands in the 15th and 16th centuries, some 2000 years after the Olmec culture died out.
They lived in the tropical lowlands on the Gulf of Mexico in the present-day Mexican states of Veracruz and Tabasco.
The Olmecs lived in hot, humid lowlands along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico in what is now southern Veracruz and Tabasco states in southern Mexico. The first evidence of their remarkable art style appears about 1200 bce in San Lorenzo, their oldest known building site.
Andrzej Wiercinski claims that some of the Olmecs were of African origin. He supports this claim with cranial evidence from two Mesoamerican sites: Tlatilco and Cerro de las Mesas. Tlatilco is a site in the Valley of Mexico. Although outside the Olmec heartland, Olmec influences appear in the architectural record.
Olmec Food, Crops, and Diet They planted many of the same crops seen in the region today, such as squash, beans, manioc, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes. Maize was a staple of the Olmec diet, although it is possible that it was introduced late in the development of their culture.
Linguistic evidence has contributed to the ethnic identity of the archaeological Olmecs: they spoke a Mixe-Zoquean language. The Olmecs produced the earliest complex civilization in Mesoamerica (c. 1200–400 bce), and it was located mainly in the same area where Mixe-Zoquean languages are found.
All of the authentic Olmec heads can be found in Mexico. San Lorenzo Head (10) is located at San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán Community Museum while San Lorenzo Heads (2) and (6) are at Mexico City’s National Anthropology Museum. Xalapa’s Anthropology Museum houses the remaining San Lorenzo sculptures.
The Aztec, Olmec, and Maya of Mesoamerica are known to have made rubber using natural latex—a milky, sap-like fluid found in some plants. Some of the rubber came out more bouncy, suggesting it may have been used to make balls for the legendary Mesoamerican ball games.
Mayan civilization occupied much of the northwestern part of the isthmus of Central America, from Chiapas and Yucatán, now part of southern Mexico, through Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, and El Salvador and into Nicaragua. Maya people still live in the same region today.
Among their many accomplishments, Olmecs created the first cities in North America. Many archeological sites are known for this culture, but only two were large and splendid enough to qualify as cities: San Lorenzo and La Venta.
Aztec, self name Culhua-Mexica, Nahuatl-speaking people who in the 15th and early 16th centuries ruled a large empire in what is now central and southern Mexico.
The Olmecs were a culture of ancient peoples -1300-400 B.C. – of the East Mexico lowlands. They are often regarded as the Mother Culture of later Middle American civilizations. The Olmec people called themselves Xi (pronounced Shi).
To the ancient peoples of Mesoamerica, the jaguar was more than just an animal; it was divine. Almost every ancient Mesoamerican civilization revered the jaguar in some way. The Olmec (circa 1200-400 B.C.) heavily featured jaguars in their art and religion.