Who were the Olmecs and what did they do?
The Olmecs were the first inhabitants of the Americas to construct monumental architecture and to settle in towns and cities.
The Maize God Because maize was such an important staple of life of the Olmec, it’s not surprising that they dedicated a god to its production. The Maize God appears as a human-ish figure with a stalk of corn growing out of his head. Like the Bird Monster, Maize God symbolism frequently appears on depictions of rulers.
The most commonly depicted pair are the Olmec Dragon ( God I ) and the Olmec Bird Monster (God III). The Olmec Dragon, believed to be a crocodilian with eagle, jaguar, human, and serpent attributes, appears to signify earth, water, fire, and agricultural fertility, and may have served as the patron deity of the elite.
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.
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 were American Indians, not Negroes (as Melgar had thought) or Nordic supermen.”
Olmec Food, Crops, and Diet They planted many of the same crops seen in the region today, such as squash, beans, manioc, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes. Maize was a staple of the Olmec diet, although it is possible that it was introduced late in the development of their culture.
Olmec Jaguar God. The jaguar was a very important figure to the Olmec and some form of it was probably their principle God. It was referred to as a nahual, which is an animal that is so closely related to a certain man, that if the animal dies, the man will also die. The nahual can be the animal form of a God.
The Olmec were the first major civilization in Mexico. Appearing around 1600 BCE, the Olmec were among the first Mesoamerican complex societies, and their culture influenced many later civilizations, like the Maya. The Olmec are known for the immense stone heads they carved from a volcanic rock called basalt.
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 Olmecs studied astronomy and developed a system of writing and mathematics. They were the first Mesoamerican culture to build pyramids. Their calendar and religious beliefs appear to have influenced later cultures. In fact, many scholars call the Olmecs the “mother culture” of Mesoamerica.
The Olmec venerated natural sites as well. El Manatí is a bog where offerings were left by the Olmecs, probably those who lived at San Lorenzo. Offerings included wooden carvings, rubber balls, figurines, knives, axes and more.
The double symbolism used by the Feathered Serpent is considered allegoric to the dual nature of the deity, where being feathered represents its divine nature or ability to fly to reach the skies and being a serpent represents its human nature or ability to creep on the ground among other animals of the Earth, a