The Olmecs, Mexico's Mother Culture

The Olmecs, their name comes from the Indian word ulli, or rubber, ands means "inhabitants of the country of rubber." Archaeologists believe this ancient Mexican civilization had its beginnings around 2000 B.C. and that their homeland was on the Gulf Coast of Mexico, in the jungles of the present states of Veracruz and Tabasco. The Olmecs race was Mexico's earliest advanced civilization. They are thought to be the initiators of all that became known as "high culture" in the pre-Columbian world of Mexico.

The majority of Olmecs artifacts date from around 1100 B.C., everything the Olmecs built were on a large scale. Their famous colossal heads were carved from volcanic rock up to 60 miles away from their ceremonial centers where they are found today. The colossal heads stand as high as 10 feet and weigh in the neighborhood of 18 tons. One of the greatest unsolved mysteries of all time is how they were able to move 18 tons of rock to their centers. They also built a circular pyramid at the La Venta ceremonial center in the jungle which rises over 100 feet from a base of over 500 feet in diameter.

The Olmecs were also masters at carving jade and stone. The deification of the jaguar, feline motifs in pottery, figurines, and mask all signal Olmec influence on other Mexican cultures.

As an ethnic race, the Olmecs had disappeared by the beginning of the Christian era. Groups of Olmecs wandered and intergrated with other Mexican people, spreading Olmec achievements throughout Mexican territory, into Oaxaca, the central highlands, as far north and west as Colima and Guerrero on the Pacific coast , and as far south as Guatemala and El Salvador.

written by Sal Rojas

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