Tools were mostly made of stone and include basic items such as hammers, wedges, mortar-and-pestles and mano-and-metate grinders used for mashing corn and other grains. Obsidian was not native to the Olmec lands, but when it could be had, it made excellent knives.
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 is a syllabic writing system used in the Olmec heartland from 900 BC- AD 450. The Olmec people introduced writing to the New World. The Olmec script is a logosyllabic script. The Olmec had both a syllabic and hieroglyphic script.
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.
Olmec homes were very simple and made out of logs, heavy stone, and clay. Olmecs liked to live near flood plains so built their houses on small mounds or platforms. They also lived in buildings with earth packed around poles which were used as sleeping area, dining room, and shelter.
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.
The Olmec were American Indians, not Negroes (as Melgar had thought) or Nordic supermen.”
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.
To quickly sum up, the Maya were first but learned a lot from the Olmecs, who started 1,200 years later.
The Olmec diet mainly consisted of squash, beans, manioc, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and maize.
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.
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 Olmecs and the Mayas. The peoples of the Americas experienced their own Neolithic Revolution in which they learned to grow corn (maize) and other crops.