The Olmec are probably best known for the statues they carved: 20 ton stone heads, quarried and carved to commemorate their rulers. The name Olmec is an Aztec word meaning the rubber people; the Olmec made and traded rubber throughout Mesoamerica.
What are facts about the Olmec?
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 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.
Olmec art is best known for colossal sculpture in volcanic stone and intricate works in jade, both media that were imported from faraway regions.
Most surviving Olmec art seems to have had a religious or political significance, i.e. the pieces show gods or rulers.
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. The Olmec had both a syllabic and hieroglyphic script. The hieroglyphic signs were simply Olmec syllabic signs used to make pictures.
They were gifted designers and architects who built grand structures including royal residences, galactic observatories, sanctuary pyramids, straight roads, and canals. The Maya also invented elastic a long time before the process of vulcanization, or rubber-making, was discovered.
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.
No, though oddly the reason why is not that popcorn is a modern invention, but that popping corn in fact goes back to at least 4700 BCE.
Olmec glyphs are the earliest known writing in America. These fine-line motifs symbolically define the four quarters of the human world with the king as ruler at the center. The Olmec art style is found on objects as far afield as the Valley of Mexico to the north and the Pacific coast of Chiapas to the south.
The Olmecs produced an abundance of basalt sculpture. Basalt blocks were quarried, then transported from distant sites. The colossal head monuments have managed to survive thousands of years, however have been faced with various circumstances that have caused damage.
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.
Items buried in offerings included ceramic vessels, stone sculptures, obsidian blades, seashells, greenstone, and objects gathered from earlier locales (like Olmec sites and the city of Teotihuacan).
The Olmec Dragon represented the Earth or at least the plane upon which humans lived. As such, he represented agriculture, fertility, fire, and otherworldly things. The dragon may have been associated with the Olmec ruling classes or elite.
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.