The Olmec are probably best known for the statues they carved: 20 ton stone heads, quarried and carved to commemorate their rulers.
How did the Olmecs get their heads?
The heads date from at least 900 BC and are a distinctive feature of the Olmec civilization of ancient Mesoamerica. They all display distinctive headgear and one theory is that these were worn as protective helmets, maybe worn for war or to take part in a ceremonial Mesoamerican ballgame.
The Mystery of the Olmec Heads Another key bone of contention surrounding the colossal Olmec heads comes from their distinctive facial features. Some theories suggest that the Olmecs were heavily influenced by early black civilisations, as a result of the supposedly African features the basalt heads possess.
The Olmec colossal heads are the most famous artifacts left behind by the Olmec civilization. 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 were gifted artists who produced stone carvings, woodcarvings and cave paintings. They made carvings of all sizes, from tiny celts and figurines to massive stone heads. The stonework is made of many different types of stone, including basalt and jadeite.
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.
Archaeologists theorize that the helmet could have been a protective gear worn in battle or donned with playing the Mesoamerican ballgame.
The Olmec were American Indians, not Negroes (as Melgar had thought) or Nordic supermen.”
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
Given that the extremely large slabs of stone used in their production were transported over large distances, requiring a great deal of human effort and resources, it is thought that the monuments represent portraits of powerful individual Olmec rulers.
What did the plantation workers think the Olmec head was? “In 1862 plantation workers in Huaypan, Veracruz, thought that they had found a large overturned iron kettle buried in the ground. Believing that it might hide a cache of gold, they dug — and dug — and dug, eventually revealing a colossal stone portrait head. 6
Rapa Nui. Easter Island (Rapa Nui in Polynesian) is a Chilean island in the southern Pacific Ocean famous for it’s stone head statues called Moai. When you first see a Moai statue you are drawn to its disproportionately large head (compared to body length) and that is why they are commonly called “Easter Island Heads”.
Said to be part-human, part-beast and named after a former owner, the Kunz Axe features a jaguar-shaped mouth and almond-shaped eyes. The figure may represent a chief or shaman who has transformed himself into a powerful jaguar to draw on its power.
The Olmec were fascinated with the unique blue jade of Guatemala and it played an important role in their rituals involving water sources. The Olmec used blue jade because it represented water, an Olmec iconography representing the Underworld.
Olmec Food, Crops, and Diet They planted many of the same crops seen in the region today, such as squash, beans, manioc, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes. Maize was a staple of the Olmec diet, although it is possible that it was introduced late in the development of their culture.