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.
Olmec art is best known for colossal sculpture in volcanic stone and intricate works in jade, both media that were imported from faraway regions.
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 Olmec culture was defined and unified by a specific art style. Crafted in a variety of materials— jade, clay, basalt, and greenstone, which is an archaeologist’s term for carved, green-colored minerals—much Olmec art is naturalistic.
The Olmec were American Indians, not Negroes (as Melgar had thought) or Nordic supermen.”
Given that the extremely large slabs of stone used in their production were transported over large distances (over 150 kilometres (93 mi)), requiring a great deal of human effort and resources, it is thought that the monuments represent portraits of powerful individual Olmec rulers.
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.
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
Olmec Tools In spite of only having Stone Age technology, the Olmecs were able to make several sorts of tools which made their life easier. They used whatever was at hand, such as clay, stone, bone, wood or deer antlers. They were skilled at making pottery: vessels and plates used for storing and cooking food.
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.
This calendar was used for centuries in Mexico, and it all originated with the Olmecs. The Olmec had amazing agriculture and knew how to get fertile soil and make use of it well. They planted things, such as squash, tomatoes, beans, and chilies. However, their main staple food was maize, or corn.
The object is carved from serpentine, a dark green stone, commonly used in Olmec artwork. Due to its small size (13cm x 11.3cm x 5.7cm), the object was most likely worn as a pendant rather than a mask. The face is probably a depiction of an Olmec king.
The men wore breech-cloth, back apron and a belt. The women wore knee length skirts. The priests wore their slaves skin when sacrificed.
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 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.
Some historians assert that the Mayans were the descendants of the Olmecs.