Who were the Olmecs?
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.
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 do we know the Olmecs were technologically advanced? They used latex from trees to create rubber.
The Olmec Used Primitive Carving Tools The heads were carved with stone tools because the ancient Olmec people had not developed metallurgy. Archaeologists believe that the hand-held stone tools were made of a harder material like jade or obsidian.
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.
Typical Olmec trade goods included obsidian, jade, serpentine, mica, rubber, pottery, feathers and polished mirrors of ilmenite and magnetite.
The Olmecs spoke an aspect of the Manding (Malinke-Bambara) language spoken in West Africa. Both the Olmec and epi-Olmec had hieroglyphic writing systems. The Olmec had both a syllabic and hieroglyphic script. The hieroglyphic signs were simply Olmec syllabic signs used to make pictures.
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.
The Olmec were American Indians, not Negroes (as Melgar had thought) or Nordic supermen.”
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 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.
But archaeologists don’t know what transformed a society of farmers into the class-based social structure of the Olmec, with their leaders and commoners, bosses and laborers, artisans and priests. Diehl theorizes that it was population pressure and that as the pre-Olmec villages grew, they naturally stratified.
The Olmecs (1200-400 B. C. E.) first used warfare to expand trade and access to resources. Fighters from the Olmec city of San Lorenzo utilized obsidian-edged weapons, handto- hand elite combat, and small, elite forces numbering in the tens to hundreds to control local trade routes from the Veracruz region.
The more likely method was considered to be water transport using a combination of sleds and raft configurations made of canoes or logs. Direct land routes held challenging obstacles of seasonally fast flowing rivers, extensive swamps, and floodplains and so were discounted (Fig.
The Aztec, Olmec, and Maya of Mesoamerica are known to have made rubber using natural latex—a milky, sap-like fluid found in some plants. Some of the rubber came out more bouncy, suggesting it may have been used to make balls for the legendary Mesoamerican ball games.