The larger stones were used for sculptures known as cabezas colasales, or colossal heads, and also altars, and thrones with many smaller stones were used for other sculptures. The more likely method was considered to be water transport using a combination of sleds and raft configurations made of canoes or logs.
Where did the Olmecs make their stone heads?
The creation of these heads was a significant undertaking. The basalt boulders and blocks used to carve the heads were located as much as 50 miles away. Archaeologists suggest a laborious process of slowly moving the stones, using a combination of raw manpower, sledges and, when possible, rafts on rivers.
The Olmec society lasted from about 1600 BCE to around 350 BCE, when environmental factors made their villages unlivable. The Olmec are probably best known for the statues they carved: 20 ton stone heads, quarried and carved to commemorate their rulers.
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 sculptures are estimated to weigh about 40 tons and stand between 10-15 feet tall. All but two heads were composed of basalt boulders from the Tuxtla Sierra mountains which were as far as 50-60 miles away from where the heads were discovered.
The Olmec were American Indians, not Negroes (as Melgar had thought) or Nordic supermen.”
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
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.
The End of the Olmec Civilization Around 400 B.C. La Venta went into decline and was eventually abandoned altogether. With the fall of La Venta came the end of classic Olmec culture. Although the descendants of the Olmecs still lived in the region, the culture itself vanished.
The Olmec may have given Mesoamerica its first written language as well. Undecipherable designs on certain pieces of Olmec stonework may be early glyphs: later societies, such as the Maya, would have elaborate languages using glyphic writing and would even develop books.
La Venta, the centre of Olmec culture (c. 800–400 bce), contains one of the earliest pyramidal structures, a mound of earth and clay 100 feet (30 metres) high. Mesoamerican pyramids were generally earth mounds faced with stone.
What two large centers did the Olmec construct? The Olmec built several important centers, including: San Lorenzo and La Venta.
But archaeologists don’t know what transformed a society of farmers into the class-based social structure of the Olmec, with their leaders and commoners, bosses and laborers, artisans and priests. Diehl theorizes that it was population pressure and that as the pre-Olmec villages grew, they naturally stratified.
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 Olmec diet mainly consisted of squash, beans, manioc, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and maize.
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.