GS anths chapter 09
|Where have archaeologists obtained most of their information about the Olmecs?||From it’s art styles and religious symbols|
|Which civilization created the ancient irrigation ditches in the Andes?||Nazca and Moche|
What artifacts did the Olmecs leave behind?
Archaeologists have found earthen artifacts at several sites that were evidence of the Olmec civilization. These Artifacts were mounds, courtyards, and pyramids built of stones. Also, on top of the mounds were many monuments made of stone. Some of these stone structures are very large.
The Olmec people are believed to have occupied a large part of modern-day Southern Mexico. The Olmec civilization is what is known as an archaeological culture. This means there is a collection of artifacts thought by archaeologists to represent a particular society.
The Olmec civilization presents something of a mystery, indeed, we do not even know what they called themselves, as Olmec was their Aztec name and meant ‘rubber people’. Due to a lack of archaeological evidence their ethnic origins and the location and extent of many of their settlements are not known.
Olmec culture was unknown to historians until the mid-19th century. In 1869, the Mexican antiquarian traveller José Melgar y Serrano published a description of the first Olmec monument to have been found in situ.
The Olmec culture flourished in several civic and ceremonial centers along the Gulf of Mexico more than 3,000 years ago, from 1500 to 400 B.C. Best known for their carvings of colossal stone heads, the Olmec were masters of monumental sculpture, and also produced an array of other distinctive artworks in stone, ceramic
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.
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 Cosmology Like many early Mesoamerican cultures, the Olmec believed in three tiers of existence: the physical realm they inhabited, an underworld and a sky realm, home of most of the gods. Their world was bound together by the four cardinal points and natural boundaries such as rivers, the ocean and mountains.
Trading helped the Olmec build their urban centers of San Lorenzo and La Venta. However, these cities were used predominantly for ceremonial purposes and elite activity; most people lived in small villages. Individual homes had a lean-to and a storage pit nearby.
Less dramatic climate changes, such as a drought, could severely affect their favored crops. Human actions likely played a role as well: warfare between the La Venta Olmecs and any one of a number of local groups could have contributed to the society’s downfall.
The Olmec were American Indians, not Negroes (as Melgar had thought) or Nordic supermen.”
Where did the Olmec civilization rise? Southeastern Mexico. lasted from 1.9 millions to about 10,000 BC.
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.
Despite replicas existing in diverse locations around the globe, all seventeen of the original Olmec heads are still found in Mexico. San Lorenzo Heads 2 and 6 are at Mexico City’s National Anthropology Museum, and Head 10 is at the San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán Community Museum.