In what ways did the Olmec’s environment help in the creation of its civilization? The region had large deposits of salt and tar, as well as fine clay that was used in making pottery. Wood and rubber from the trees was also used.
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.
The hills to the north provided hard stone from which the Olmec could make tools and monuments. The rivers that laced the region provided a means of transport. Most important, the flood plains of these rivers provided fertile land for farming. The Olmec used their resources to build thriving communities.
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 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.
Slash and burn agriculture also results in significant soil erosion and accompanying landslides, water contamination, and/ or dust clouds, as without trees and vegetation and their root systems, soil washes away during heavy rains and blows away during droughts.
They lived in the tropical lowlands of south-central Mexico, in the present-day states of Veracruz and Tabasco, and had their center in the city of La Venta. The Olmec flourished during Mesoamerica’s formative period, dating roughly from as early as 1500 BCE to about 400 BCE.
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.
Because they were the first civilization, many later Mesoamerican civilizations used and repeated Olmec features and characteristics. The Olmec people discovered and made use of many natural resources in the area, including rubber and corn.
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.
Olmec art lived on in ancient Mesoamerican aesthetic traditions as well. The sculptors and painters in Olmec-period Mexico were the first to portray many of the iconic features of self-proclaimed divine rulers in Mesoamerica.
The heads date from at least 900 BC and are a distinctive feature of the Olmec civilization of ancient Mesoamerica. They all display distinctive headgear and one theory is that these were worn as protective helmets, maybe worn for war or to take part in a ceremonial Mesoamerican ballgame.
The Maya (2000 B.C.E.-900 C.E.) and Aztec (1300-1500 C.E.) cultures were influenced by the earlier Olmec civilization.
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.
How did Olmec civilization differ from Maya civilization? The Olmecs were the first culture to live in Mesoamerica. The Olmecs came later and rejected most of the Mayas’ early practices. The Olmec civilization declined after a prolonged drought, while the Maya civilization continued to flourish into the 1500s.