The Nahuatl (Aztec) name for these people, Olmecatl, or Olmec in the modern corruption, means “rubber people” or “people of the rubber country.” That term was chosen because the Olmecs extracted latex from Panama rubber trees (Castilla elastica) growing in the region and mixed it with the juice of a local vine (Ipomoea
Why were the Olmecs called rubber people?
The term “Rubber People” refers to the ancient practice, spanning from ancient Olmecs to Aztecs, of extracting latex from Castilla elastica, a rubber tree in the area. The juice of a local vine, Ipomoea alba, was then mixed with this latex to create rubber as early as 1600 BCE.
The Olmecs were a culture of ancient peoples -1300-400 B.C. – of the East Mexico lowlands. They are often regarded as the Mother Culture of later Middle American civilizations. The Olmec people called themselves Xi (pronounced Shi).
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.
The name Olmec was actually invented by scholars. Derived from the Nahuatl (Aztec) word “Olmecatl”, which means “inhabitant of the rubber country”, Olmec is a reference to the rubber production in the area where many of the artifacts have been found.
The Olmec were American Indians, not Negroes (as Melgar had thought) or Nordic supermen.”
ancient people and civilization of Mexico, 1787, from Nahuatl (Aztecan) Olmecatl (plural Olmeca), literally ” inhabitant of the rubber country. ”
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.
The End of the Olmec Civilization 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 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.
The Mesoamericans were robust users of rubber, according to historical and archaeological records. With it they made sandals, rubber bands and also balls, which they used to play a ceremonial game in stone-walled courts. Each of these items need different qualities in the rubber of which they are made.
First identified and collected in Central and South American in about 1600 B.C.E., the earliest rubber was mainly used for games. Harvested from a plant, these ancient peoples formed balls with the substance, and used these balls for primitive bouncing games.
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.
To quickly sum up, the Maya were first but learned a lot from the Olmecs, who started 1,200 years later.
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.
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.