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.
What kind of houses did the Olmecs live in?
The Olmecs made cutting tools from hard stone-like chert and from obsidian (volcanic glass, which when cut is extremely sharp). Jade was used to make ceremonial axes and jewelry. Land farmed by the Olmecs was prone to flooding. So Olmec farmers built their houses on artificial hills.
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.
Evidence of San Lorenzo’s high culture includes the presence of mound structures, possibly an early ball court, carved basalt drains through one of the man-made mounds and the Red Palace structure with painted red floors and workshops.
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).
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.
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 Olmec were American Indians, not Negroes (as Melgar had thought) or Nordic supermen.”
Civilizations like the Olmec, Maya, Aztec and Inca all built pyramids to house their deities, as well as to bury their kings. In many of their great city-states, temple-pyramids formed the center of public life and were the site of holy rituals, including human sacrifice.
What two large centers did the Olmec construct? The Olmec built several important centers, including: San Lorenzo and La Venta.
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.
Olmec means ‘ people from the rubber country ‘This Olmec mask was worn around the neck as a pendant. It may have provided the wearer with a new identity as an ancestor or deity – perhaps as the Olmec rain god. The distinctive toothless, down-turned mouth and infant-like face are typical of Olmec art.
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 men wore breech-cloth, back apron and a belt. The women wore knee length skirts. The priests wore their slaves skin when sacrificed.
To quickly sum up, the Maya were first but learned a lot from the Olmecs, who started 1,200 years later.
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.