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.
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. They also likely had gardens in which the Olmec would grow medicinal herbs and small crops, like sunflowers.
Houses. 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.
The Olmec diet mainly consisted of squash, beans, manioc, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and maize.
Less dramatic climate changes, such as a drought, could severely affect their favored crops. Human actions likely played a role as well: warfare between the La Venta Olmecs and any one of a number of local groups could have contributed to the society’s downfall.
The Olmec were American Indians, not Negroes (as Melgar had thought) or Nordic supermen.”
The Olmecs avidly fished from nearby lakes and rivers. Clams, alligators, and various types of fish were an important part of their diet. The Olmecs preferred to make settlements near water, as the floodplains were good for agriculture and fish and shellfish could be had more easily.
The men wore breech-cloth, back apron and a belt. The women wore knee length skirts. The priests wore their slaves skin when sacrificed.
Olmec farmers grew maize, beans, chilies, tomatoes, and squashes. They kept dogs and chickens for meat. As well as that the Olmecs hunted deer and peccaries (wild pigs). The Olmecs also fished and collected shellfish.
The Olmecs spoke an aspect of the Manding (Malinke-Bambara) language spoken in West Africa. Both the Olmec and epi-Olmec had hieroglyphic writing systems. Olmec is a syllabic writing system used in the Olmec heartland from 900 BC- AD 450. The Olmec people introduced writing to the New World.
In addition to their influence with contemporaneous Mesoamerican cultures, as the first civilization in Mesoamerica, the Olmecs are credited, or speculatively credited, with many “firsts”, including the bloodletting and perhaps human sacrifice, writing and epigraphy, and the invention of popcorn, zero and the
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).
The Olmec were a people who lived about 3000 years ago in what is today south-central Mexico. The Olmec were the first civilization in the ancient area known as Mesoamerica. Because they were the first civilization, many later Mesoamerican civilizations used and repeated Olmec features and characteristics.
The Olmec culture flourished in several civic and ceremonial centers along the Gulf of Mexico more than 3,000 years ago, from 1500 to 400 B.C. Best known for their carvings of colossal stone heads, the Olmec were masters of monumental sculpture, and also produced an array of other distinctive artworks in stone, ceramic
The Olmec colossal heads are stone representations of human heads sculpted from large basalt boulders. They range in height from 1.17 to 3.4 metres (3.8 to 11.2 ft). The heads date from at least 900 BC and are a distinctive feature of the Olmec civilization of ancient Mesoamerica.