What artifacts did the Olmecs leave behind?
Scientists are typically split between two theories on the subject: Either the Maya developed directly from an older “mother culture” known as the Olmec, or they sprang into existence independently.
According to Aztec tradition, the sun and the moon, as well as the rest of the universe, traced their origins to Teotihuacán. More temples have been discovered there than in any other Mesoamerican city. The Teotihuacán built the Pyramids of the Sun and of the Moon between A.D. 1 and 250.
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.
And its origins are a mystery. It was built by hand more than a thousand years before the swooping arrival of the Nahuatl-speaking Aztec in central Mexico. But it was the Aztec, descending on the abandoned site, no doubt falling awestruck by what they saw, who gave its current name: Teotihuacan.
The Olmecs of southern Mexico are America’s oldest civilization and Mesoamerica’s “Mother Culture.” Famous for their Colossal Heads carved from giant boulders, the Olmecs have fascinated the public and archaeologists since the 1940s when National Geographic magazine reported the initial explorations of their centers.
Pre-Olmec cultures had flourished since about 2500 BCE, but by 1600–1500 BCE, early Olmec culture had emerged, centered on the San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán site near the coast in southeast Veracruz. They were the first Mesoamerican civilization, and laid many of the foundations for the civilizations that followed.
Teotihuacan Collapse Around 600 A.D., major buildings were deliberately burned and artworks and religious sculptures were destroyed, suggesting an uprising from the poor against the ruling elite.
There are six total pyramids, the largest of which — Piramide Mayor — measures about 450 by 500 feet and is more than 60 feet in height.
Pyramids were built for religious purposes. The Egyptians were one of the first civilizations to believe in an afterlife. They believed that a second self called the ka lived within every human being. Three pyramids were built at Giza, and many smaller pyramids were constructed around the Nile Valley.
Olmec, the first elaborate pre-Columbian civilization of Mesoamerica (c. 1200–400 bce) and one that is thought to have set many of the fundamental patterns evinced by later American Indian cultures of Mexico and Central America, notably the Maya and the Aztec.
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.
How did Olmec civilization differ from Maya civilization? The Olmecs were the first culture to live in Mesoamerica. The Olmecs came later and rejected most of the Mayas’ early practices. The Olmec civilization declined after a prolonged drought, while the Maya civilization continued to flourish into the 1500s.
The Teotihuacan people predated the Maya by over five hundred years, and the Aztec by more than a thousand years. The civilization of Teotihuacan reached its height in the 1st century CE (AD) when the huge pyramid to the sun was built.
The Mayan pyramids were built mostly between the 3rd and 9th century AD by the Maya, a Mesoamerican civilization that arose around 1500 BC. 4
Tikal was covered by a dense layer of jungle that had grown for over one thousand years from the time it was abandoned by the Maya to the time exploration started at the site in the late 1800s. During this first expedition artist Eusebio Lara made fanciful drawings of the stelae at Tikal’s Main Plaza.