The Olmec colossal heads are the most famous artifacts left behind by the Olmec civilization. The Olmec people are believed to have occupied a large part of modern-day Southern Mexico. person who studies artifacts and lifestyles of ancient cultures. material remains of a culture, such as tools, clothing, or food.
What artifacts did the Olmecs leave behind?
The Olmec are probably best known for the statues they carved: 20 ton stone heads, quarried and carved to commemorate their rulers. The name Olmec is an Aztec word meaning the rubber people; the Olmec made and traded rubber throughout Mesoamerica.
Curiously, the Olmecs appear to have been the only pre-Columbian culture that produced actual portraits. There are two kinds of reality represented by the ceramics and stone and jade figures and masks in this show: the observed reality and the imagined.
Two great Olmec cities are known: San Lorenzo and La Venta. 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.
The Olmecs lived in hot, humid lowlands along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico in what is now southern Veracruz and Tabasco states in southern Mexico. The first evidence of their remarkable art style appears about 1200 bce in San Lorenzo, their oldest known building site.
The Olmec were American Indians, not Negroes (as Melgar had thought) or Nordic supermen.”
Most surviving Olmec art seems to have had a religious or political significance, i.e. the pieces show gods or rulers.
Jade was the most highly valued material in the Olmec world.
Each head is distinct and naturalistic, displaying individualised features. They were once thought to represent ballplayers although this theory is no longer widely held; it is possible, however, that they represent rulers equipped for the Mesoamerican ballgame.
Following Toltec decline, a further period of unrest in the Late Postclassic Period lasted until 1428, when the Aztec defeated the rival city of Azcapotzalco and became the dominant force in central Mexico. This last native Mesoamerican empire fell to the Spaniards, led by Hernán Cortés, in 1521.
Some historians assert that the Mayans were the descendants of the Olmecs.
To quickly sum up, the Maya were first but learned a lot from the Olmecs, who started 1,200 years later.
The Olmecs studied astronomy and developed a system of writing and mathematics. They were the first Mesoamerican culture to build pyramids. Their calendar and religious beliefs appear to have influenced later cultures. In fact, many scholars call the Olmecs the “mother culture” of Mesoamerica.
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.