What artifacts did the Olmecs leave behind?
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.
Olmec Economy Most common Olmec “citizens” were involved in food production, tending fields of basic crops such as maize, beans, and squash, or fishing the rivers that flowed through the Olmec homelands.
The daily life of the Olmecs included farming, weaving, pottery, and games. The men would go out and farm squash, beans, sweet potatoes, and even tomatoes. Men also would fish. While the men were farming and fishing, the women would stay home and cook.
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).
What evidence supports the idea that the Olmec developed an advanced civilization that was capable of organizing large pools of labor for important projects? The Olmec built large monuments and temples, and they transported huge blocks of stone to be carved into massive sculptures.
Contributions. The Olmecs were apparently the first Mesoamerican people to fathom the concept of zero, develop a calendar, and create a hieroglyphic writing system. Also, they are credited for the discovery of the first conduit drainage system known in the Americas.
How did Olmec people provide for their needs? They were farmers. They grew corns, beans, squash. They also hunted and fished.
Trading helped the Olmec build their urban centers of San Lorenzo and La Venta. These cities, however, were used predominantly for ceremonial purposes and elite activity; most people lived in small villages. Individual homes had a lean-to—sort of like a garage shed—and a storage pit for storing root vegetables nearby.
How did the physical environment influence the Olmec? The cold and dry climate promoted specialization. The tropical climate was poorly suited for farming. The location on the Central Mexican Plateau allowed for terrace farming.
Olmec Tools In spite of only having Stone Age technology, the Olmecs were able to make several sorts of tools which made their life easier. They used whatever was at hand, such as clay, stone, bone, wood or deer antlers. They were skilled at making pottery: vessels and plates used for storing and cooking food.
Olmec homes were very simple and made out of logs, heavy stone, and clay. Olmecs liked to live near flood plains so built their houses on small mounds or platforms. They also lived in buildings with earth packed around poles which were used as sleeping area, dining room, and shelter.
They were the first Mesoamerican civilization, and laid many of the foundations for the civilizations that followed. Among other “firsts”, the Olmec appeared to practice ritual bloodletting and played the Mesoamerican ballgame, hallmarks of nearly all subsequent Mesoamerican societies.
The Olmec created massive monuments, including colossal stone heads, thrones, stela (upright slabs), and statues. They may have been the originators of the Mesoamerican ball game, a ceremonial team sport played throughout the region for centuries.
The Olmec were American Indians, not Negroes (as Melgar had thought) or Nordic supermen.”