Olmec hieroglyphs (alternatively Olmec glyphs, Olmec writing, or Olmec script) designate a possible system of writing or proto-writing developed within the Olmec culture. Direct evidence includes the appearance of individual (potential) glyphs as well as the singleton Cascajal Block that bears a potential text.
What was the Olmec writing system?
The Olmec had both a syllabic and hieroglyphic script. The hieroglyphic signs were simply Olmec syllabic signs used to make pictures. There are two forms of Olmec hieroglyphic writing: the pure hieroglyphics ( or picture signs); and the phonetic hieroglyphics, which are a combination of syllabic and logographic signs.
The Olmec King was usually referred to as Tu. The Olmec term for governor was Ku. Interestingly, some of the Olmec rulers were referred to as the Ku and Tu.
The Olmec King was usually referred to as Tu. The Olmec term for governor was Ku. Interestingly, some of the Olmec rulers were referred to as the Ku and Tu. This may suggest that the Olmec civilization may have been organized into a confederation of city-states lead by a recognized emperor.
The Maya script is generally considered to be the most fully developed Mesoamerican writing system, mostly because of its extraordinary aesthetics and because it has been partially deciphered. In Maya writing, logograms and syllable signs are combined.
Aztec was pictographic and ideographic proto-writing, augmented by phonetic rebuses. It also contained syllabic signs and logograms. There was no alphabet, but puns also contributed to recording sounds of the Aztec language. Logosyllabic writing appears on both painted and carved artifacts, such as the Tizoc Stone.
The authors of the report and principle researchers involved with its analysis concluded that it originated between 1100 and 900 BC, based on the fact that clay shards found around the block also date to this time.
The Olmec were American Indians, not Negroes (as Melgar had thought) or Nordic supermen.”
To quickly sum up, the Maya were first but learned a lot from the Olmecs, who started 1,200 years later.
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).
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.
Linguistic evidence has contributed to the ethnic identity of the archaeological Olmecs: they spoke a Mixe-Zoquean language. The Olmecs produced the earliest complex civilization in Mesoamerica (c. 1200–400 bce), and it was located mainly in the same area where Mixe-Zoquean languages are found.
The Olmec religious practices of sacrifice, cave rituals, pilgrimages, offerings, ball-courts, pyramids and a seeming awe of mirrors, was also passed on to all subsequent civilizations in Mesoamerica until the Spanish Conquest in the 16th century CE.
By 1300 BC we have evidence of a fully operational writing system in late Shang-dynasty China. Sometime between 900 and 600 BC writing also appears in the cultures of Mesoamerica.
The Aztecs didn’t have a writing system as we know it, instead they used pictograms, little pictures that convey meaning to the reader. Pictography combines pictograms and ideograms—graphic symbols or pictures that represent an idea, much like cuneiform or hieroglyphic or Japanese or Chinese characters.
Mayan hieroglyphic writing, system of writing used by the Maya people of Mesoamerica until about the end of the 17th century, 200 years after the Spanish conquest of Mexico. It was the only true writing system developed in the pre-Columbian Americas.