The Olmecs - Who They Were, Where They Came From Still Remains A Mystery - MessageToEagle.com (2022)

A. Sutherland – MessageToEagle.com – Of all the lost civilizations of Mesoamerica, that of the Olmec is the oldest and the most mystifying.We know very little about the Olmec – a mysterious culture considered by many as theMother Civilization of Mesoamerica, that laid the foundation for the Mesoamerican cultural traditions.

They arose suddenly and with no apparent prior gradual development.It is difficult to precisely locate the Olmec civilization in time.

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They arose suddenly and with no apparent prior gradual development. Image credit: http://www.sfgate.com

Their beginnings have traditionally been placed between 1400 and 1200 BC, and Olmec remains discovered at the Preclassic shrine, El Manatí, near San Lorenzo moved furtherback to “at least” 1600–1500 BC.It seems that the Olmec had their roots in early farming cultures, which began between 5100 BC and 4600 BC.

The Mesoamerican Olmec flourished around 1400 BC near the Bay of Campeche off the Gulf of Mexico. They inhabited the south-eastern part of the state of Veracruz and Tabasco western part of the state, with three most important centers of La Venta, San Lorenzo, and Tres Zapotes.

Other evident signs of their presence are related to Puebla, Morelos, Guerrero, which means that they occupied the area from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast. Most likely, the expansion of them reached up to the countries of Central America: Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.

The Olmecs - Who They Were, Where They Came From Still Remains A Mystery - MessageToEagle.com (2)

The Olmec portrayed Africans (perhaps African rulers) who must have played an important role among ancient people who carved gigantic depictions to honor them.

NicknamedOlmeca(‘Rubber People’) because they lived in the area known for its rubber trees, the Olmec were strangers.

In addition to building large thrones and monuments, the Olmec carved colossal sized heads weighing up to fifty tons and transported them nearly sixty-two miles to the Olmec heartland.

(Video) The Illuminati Funded Archaeologists have a lot to answer for.

Who they were, where they came from is uncertain. The generally accepted belief is that the culture arose from people in the area, although many believe they represent Mongoloid people, while others suggest the Olmec have originally come from Africa.

But who were these unknown Africans? Did they arrive from the lands of North Africa?

In fact, there is a number of issues related to the Olmec civilization and one of these issues, is the Olmec true origin.

The Olmecs - Who They Were, Where They Came From Still Remains A Mystery - MessageToEagle.com (3)

The Olmec portrayed Africans (perhaps African rulers) who must have played an important role among ancient people who carved gigantic depictions to honor them.

The African descent and possible transatlantic crossings of people millennia ago seem too controversial to accept but is there any other explanation?

According to Mexican anthropologists having difficulties to accept the Africans’ presence and their importance in this part of the world, the so-called Olmec were not strangers from across the seas, but indigenous people, Mesoamericans, with face characteristics having a resemblance to Africans.

Ivan Van Sertima (1935-2009), a Guyanese-born associate professor of Africana Studies at Rutgers University in the United States and the foremost authority on the African presence in ancient America, proved that many Olmec cultural traits were of African origin:

“A study of the Olmec civilization reveals elements that so closely parallel ritual traits and techniques in the Egypto-Nubian world of the same period that it is difficult to maintain [that] all these are due to mere coincidence.”

Who were the Africans who sailed to America before Columbus and introduced a calendar, writing, pyramid and tomb construction, mummification, as well as certain political systems and religious traditions to the native Americans?

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San Lorenzo’s Olmec head discovered by M.W. Stirling and his archaeological expedition.

Indian scholar R.A. Jairazbhoy states that the earliest settlers were ancient Egyptians led by King Ramesis III, during the 19th dynasty. Van Sertima also believes that most of the explorers sailed from Egypt but during the much later 25th dynasty. Many other scholars insist that the navigators came from West African nations, such as Mali and Ghana.

See also:

Olmec Civilization Remains An Intriguing Ancient Puzzle

Ancient Site Tres Zapotes Offers Evidence The Olmecs Practiced Shared Governance

The Olmec influence spread throughout much of Mesoamerica and it is particularly noted for its ceremonial centers and distinctive art style, like were-jaguars being a combination of a snarling jaguar and a weeping human infant, but first of all, 17 colossal stone heads –never with bodies.

The Olmecs - Who They Were, Where They Came From Still Remains A Mystery - MessageToEagle.com (5)

Symbols on this Olmec seal are similar to later Mayan glyphs. Credits: Christopher von Nagy.

Huge monolithic heads – weighing up to 24 tons, with a height of up to 3.5 meters – are different from each other and yet they are all alike with flaring nostrils and thickened lips and a helmet or a helmet-like headdress believed to be the characteristic “football helmet”. At San Lorenzo, there have been found ten of them, four in La Venta, two in Tres Zapotes and one in La Cobata.

The heads – one of the most controversial scientific issues – are made of hard volcanic basalt mined in the mountainous region of Sierra de los Tuxtlas along the southeastern Veracruz Gulf coast in Eastern Mexico.
As skilled engineers, the Olmec managed to transport huge blocks of basalt and other stone from quarries more than fifty miles away from their sculpted heads and other monuments.

The first of the monolithic heads, was accidentally discovered a Mexican traveler Jose Maria Melgar y Serrano, in the hacienda Hueyapán (Tres Zapotes, Veracruz), in 1862.
Given the physical features of the Olmec head, Serrano was sure that it was the depiction of an African. The discovery testified to the existence of an unknown sophisticated culture.

The Olmecs - Who They Were, Where They Came From Still Remains A Mystery - MessageToEagle.com (6)

Stela 5, Izapa, was found in about 1939 at the ruined city called Izapa in southern Mexico. It depicts a complex religious scene, the central feature of which is a great tree with fruit on its branches – a representation of the symbolic tree of life of ancient American religion–and two large semi­-human figures standing (apparently in the air) facing it on either side, attending it.

Popol Vuh, Sacred Book of the Quiché Maya People claims that the Olmec came to Mexico in ‘ships of bark’. It means that black Africans sailed across the Atlantic Ocean longbeforeColumbus.
Buthow long agodid this journey happen?

At first, the suggested oldest date for the Olmec origin was 250 BC., but when one Olmec site after another was excavated, ‘the oldest date’ shifted to 500 BC and then even 1250 BC, and ‘in the guidebook [of the La Venta Park Museum] to an even earlier time, conceding “the appearance of the first civilization of Mesoamerica a little under 4,000 years ago”—i.e., around 2000 BC.’ (Sitchin).

No doubt, the archaeological discoveries prove that the Olmec built complex urban centers with pyramidical structures of great size and with astronomical alignments. The Olmecs engaged in mining, produced high levels of art, introduced hieroglyphic writing to Mesoamerica, the concept of Zero and positional numbers, and great public buildings.

The Olmecs - Who They Were, Where They Came From Still Remains A Mystery - MessageToEagle.com (7)

Olmec clay toys, equipped with wheels, Anthropological Museum of the University of Veracruz, Jalapa, Mexico

They were the first in Mesoamerica to have a calendar, religion, the study of astronomy and mathematics, stone masonry and farming.

‘From an ancient stela found in Izapa, it is clear that the Olmec recognized theTree of Life. This stela also confirms that the Olmec were some black people who came to Mexico in ships made of barks and landed at Pontochan… these people are frequently depicted in the Mayan books and writings carrying trade goods, the tree also depicts seven branches and twelve roots,’ wrote Sabas Whittaker, M.F.A. in his book‘Africans In The Americas Our Journey Throughout The World’.

‘The seven branches probably represent the seven major clans of the Olmec people.
The twelve roots of the tree extending into the water from the boat probably signifies the ‘twelve roads through the sea.’

Friar Diego de Landa (1524 – 1579), both the most important early destroyer and preserver of knowledge on the preconquest Maya of Yucatánwrote:

“Some old men of Yucatan say that they heard from their ancestors that this country was peopled by a certain race who came from the EAST, who God delivered by opening for them twelve roads through the sea.”

The existence of the Olmec culture in Old Mexico has always posed a problem.They vanished without any hint to where they went and why.

Written by – A. Sutherland – MessageToEagle.com – AncientPages.com Staff Writer

Copyright © MessageToEagle.com All rights reserved. This material may not bepublished, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or part without the express written permission of MessageToEagle.com

Expand for references

References:

Sitchin, Z. The Lost Realms

Whittaker S, ‘Africans In The Americas Our Journey Throughout The World’

Popol Vuh, Sacred Book of the Quiché Maya People

Tags:EL Manati, Mesoamerica, Olmec civilization, Olmec head, Olmecs, origin, ships of bark

FAQs

Who were the Olmecs and where did they come from? ›

The Olmec were the first major civilization in Mexico. They lived in the tropical lowlands on the Gulf of Mexico in the present-day Mexican states of Veracruz and Tabasco. The name Olmec is a Nahuatl—the Aztec language—word; it means the rubber people.

What is the Olmec mystery? ›

The Olmec Enigma

The Olmec civilization presents something of a mystery, indeed, we do not even know what they called themselves, as Olmec was their Aztec name and meant 'rubber people'. Due to a lack of archaeological evidence their ethnic origins and the location and extent of many of their settlements are not known.

Who were the Olmecs and what did they do? ›

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.

Are the Olmecs still alive? ›

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.

Who were the Olmecs quizlet? ›

Who were the Olmecs? The Olmecs were one of the first major civilizations, and are titled the "Mother Culture" of Mesoamerican civilizations, because they influenced different cultures in different ways. Where was Olmec Art often found? The "Triple Diet", which consisted of beans, maize, and squash.

What remains of the Olmec culture? ›

All that remains of Olmec culture are stone carvings, ruined cities and a handful of wooden artifacts pulled from a bog at the El Manatí site. Nearly everything we know about the Olmec has been discovered and pieced together by archaeologists.

What are the Olmec best known for? ›

The Olmec culture flourished in several civic and ceremonial centers along the Gulf of Mexico more than 3,000 years ago, from 1500 to 400 B.C. Best known for their carvings of colossal stone heads, the Olmec were masters of monumental sculpture, and also produced an array of other distinctive artworks in stone, ceramic ...

When did the Olmecs start and end? ›

The Olmecs flourished during Mesoamerica's formative period, dating roughly from as early as 1500 BCE to about 400 BCE.

What did the Olmecs believe in? ›

The Olmecs were polytheistic, believing in many gods who controlled the natural forces of life. These gods took on human-like forms but had a more frightful quality through also showing mixtures of feline, reptile, and bird-like features.

Who came first Olmec or Maya? ›

In short, the Maya came first, and settled in modern-day Mexico. Next came the Olmecs, who also settled Mexico. They didn't build any major cities, but they were widespread and prosperous. They were followed by the Inca in modern-day Peru, and finally the Aztecs, also in modern-day Mexico.

What can archaeologists tell about Olmec civilization from their remains? ›

What can archaeologists tell about the Olmec civilization from their remains? Archaeologists know very little about the Olmecs, but temples and tombs suggest that they had a powerful class of priests and aristocrats.

What is the definition of the Olmec? ›

Definition of Olmec

: an ancient people of the southern east coast of Mexico who flourished about 1200 to 400 b.c.

When did the Olmecs disappear? ›

For instance, the Olmec largely abandoned the San Lorenzo site by ~900 BCE. Afterwards, La Venta became the chief cultural center until its abandonment around 400 BCE. There are many other speculative reasons as to why the Olmec civilization collapsed.

Who came after the Olmecs? ›

The Zapotec civilization came nearly 100 years after the Olmec in 500 BCE and lived to 900 CE. They also lived in the Valley of Oaxaca.

Who are the descendants of the Olmecs? ›

Answer and Explanation: Some historians assert that the Mayans were the descendants of the Olmecs. There were many similarities between the Olmecs and the Mayans, and the Mayans seemed to improve upon innovations that the Olmecs had developed.

What kind of society were the Olmec quizlet? ›

The Olmecs were the first complex civilization in Mesoamerica. They built the first ceremonial centers, developed a distinct culture, and traded with other peoples. They had classes of commoners, priests, and nobles. They constructed great heads from basalt and traded with jade and obsidian.

What later cultures were influenced by the Olmec civilization quizlet? ›

There is evidence that both the Maya and the Aztec were influenced by the Olmec. The name Olmec is an Aztec name for that civilization, since the real name is unknown. The Olmec were the first to build the pyramid style of temples in Mesoamerica, a style later used by the Aztec and the Maya.

What natural resources did the Olmecs have? ›

The Olmec people discovered and made use of many natural resources in the area, including rubber and corn. Dozens of mysterious stone heads were discovered in the Olmec territory as well; archaeologists are still not sure what their purposes were.

What was life like in Olmec? ›

Most common Olmecs were simple farmers and fishermen who lived in family groups or small villages. Olmec homes were simple affairs: generally, one large building made of earth packed around poles, which served as a sleeping area, dining room, and shelter. Most homes probably had a small garden of herbs and basic foods.

Where were the Olmec heads found? ›

All of the authentic Olmec heads can be found in Mexico. San Lorenzo Head (10) is located at San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán Community Museum while San Lorenzo Heads (2) and (6) are at Mexico City's National Anthropology Museum. Xalapa's Anthropology Museum houses the remaining San Lorenzo sculptures.

How many Olmec heads have been found? ›

To date, 17 colossal Olmec heads have been discovered in various locations associated with the ancient Olmec civilisations; ten (thought to be the oldest) were found in San Lorenzo, Veracruz, four in La Venta, Tabasco, two in Tres Zapotes, Veracruz and one in La Cobata.

What language did the Olmec speak? ›

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.

Who ruled the Olmec? ›

At the time, La Venta and its all-powerful king dominated the Olmec heartland. Like its predecessor San Lorenzo, which flourished between 1200 and 900 B.C., La Venta was organized around a single dominant plaza featuring administrative buildings, elaborate monuments, and elite residences.

Why are the Olmec known as the mother culture? ›

Answer and Explanation: The Olmec civilization is called the mother civilization of Mesoamerica because the Olmecs laid the foundation that future Mesoamerican civilizations would follow. Specifically, the Olmecs grew maize, and were highly successful at it. This allowed them to sustain their growing population.

What was the Olmec dragon god of? ›

The Olmec Dragon represented the Earth or at least the plane upon which humans lived. As such, he represented agriculture, fertility, fire, and otherworldly things. The dragon may have been associated with the Olmec ruling classes or elite.

Who came before the Mayans? ›

Scientists are typically split between two theories on the subject: Either the Maya developed directly from an older "mother culture" known as the Olmec, or they sprang into existence independently.

Why did the Olmecs settle in Mexico? ›

The initial success of the Olmec civilization was initially based on their geographical location. The Olmec's took advantage of the fertile and well-watered land near the coastal areas that surrounded the Gulf of Mexico by using it for agriculture and transportation.

When did the Olmecs exist? ›

Olmec, the first elaborate pre-Columbian civilization of Mesoamerica (c. 1200–400 bce) and one that is thought to have set many of the fundamental patterns evinced by later American Indian cultures of Mexico and Central America, notably the Maya and the Aztec.

Who was the most important Olmec god? ›

Coe argues that the Olmec maize god is “the most important and ubiquitous Olmec deity,” because of the significant role that maize played as a food source. The Olmecs viewed maize as the “stuff of human substance and life” because of the role it played in the development of Mesoamerica.

When were the Olmec heads created? ›

The Olmec colossal heads are stone representations of human heads sculpted from large basalt boulders. They range in height from 1.17 to 3.4 metres (3.8 to 11.2 ft). The heads date from at least 900 BC and are a distinctive feature of the Olmec civilization of ancient Mesoamerica.

Where did the Olmecs come from before Mexico? ›

While historians have speculated that the facial features of some monumental carved heads indicate an African origin of these people, most scholars believe that the Olmec, like other native Americans, descended from Asian ancestors who entered North America during the Great Ice Age.

What was the first civilization? ›

Mesopotamia, 4000-3500 B.C.

Meaning “between two rivers” in Greek, Mesopotamia (located in modern-day Iraq, Kuwait and Syria) is considered the birthplace of civilization.

Is Maya older than Olmec? ›

Yes, the Olmecs are older historically than the Mayans. Olmec civilization lasted from approximately 1200 BCE until 400 BCE, while Mayan civilization spanned between approximately 300 BCE and 900 CE.

What was significant about the Olmec civilization 5 points? ›

The Olmec civilization left a great deal of written records behind. The Olmec civilization had a great deal of influence on neighboring and later cultures. The Olmecs developed from a combination of cultural groups including the Aztecs and Mayans. The Olmecs practiced western religions such as Roman Catholicism.

Where did the Mayans originally come from? ›

The Maya are probably the best-known of the classical civilizations of Mesoamerica. Originating in the Yucatán around 2600 B.C., they rose to prominence around A.D. 250 in present-day southern Mexico, Guatemala, northern Belize and western Honduras.

How did the Olmecs location contribute to the development of their civilization? ›

How did the Olmec's location contribute to the development of their civilization? The area where they lived was very tropical, so a lot of rain fell every year. The rain provided flood plains which were great for farming, salt and tar, fine clay, wood and rubber, rolling hills, and rivers that were great for transport.

How was the Olmec culture important to other Mesoamerican cultures? ›

Olmec Trade and Commerce

Highly desirable items like obsidian knives, animal skins, and salt were routinely traded between neighboring cultures. The Olmecs created long-distance trade routes to obtain the things they needed, eventually making contacts all the way from the valley of Mexico to Central America.

What was one characteristic unique to Olmec culture? ›

What was one characteristic unique to Olmec culture? A hieroglyphic writing system and a calendar system based on the movement of the sun. Also noted as America's first city builders.

What kind of art is Olmec? ›

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.

Who came first Mayans or Olmecs? ›

In short, the Maya came first, and settled in modern-day Mexico. Next came the Olmecs, who also settled Mexico. They didn't build any major cities, but they were widespread and prosperous. They were followed by the Inca in modern-day Peru, and finally the Aztecs, also in modern-day Mexico.

Are Olmecs Aztecs? ›

The name "Olmec" means "rubber people" in Nahuatl, the language of the Nahuas, and was the Aztec Empire term for the people who lived in the Gulf Lowlands in the 15th and 16th centuries, some 2000 years after the Olmec culture died out.

What are the Olmec best known for? ›

The Olmec culture flourished in several civic and ceremonial centers along the Gulf of Mexico more than 3,000 years ago, from 1500 to 400 B.C. Best known for their carvings of colossal stone heads, the Olmec were masters of monumental sculpture, and also produced an array of other distinctive artworks in stone, ceramic ...

When did the Olmecs come to America? ›

The Olmecs developed a wide trading network, and between 1100 and 800 bce their cultural influence spread northwestward to the Valley of Mexico and southeastward to parts of Central America.

Who came before the Maya? ›

Scientists are typically split between two theories on the subject: Either the Maya developed directly from an older "mother culture" known as the Olmec, or they sprang into existence independently.

Who killed the Mayan civilization? ›

The Itza Maya and other lowland groups in the Petén Basin were first contacted by Hernán Cortés in 1525, but remained independent and hostile to the encroaching Spanish until 1697, when a concerted Spanish assault led by Martín de Urzúa y Arizmendi finally defeated the last independent Maya kingdom.

What language did Olmecs speak? ›

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.

Are the Olmec African? ›

While historians have speculated that the facial features of some monumental carved heads indicate an African origin of these people, most scholars believe that the Olmec, like other native Americans, descended from Asian ancestors who entered North America during the Great Ice Age.

Who were the Olmec gods? ›

Their religion centered around eight gods: the Olmec Dragon, the Bird Monster, the Shark Monster, the Banded-Eye god, the Maize God, the Rain Spirit, the Were-Jaguar, and the Feathered Serpent. The Olmec had the first representation of the feathered serpent that would show itself in later mesoamerican cultures.

Who ruled the Olmec? ›

At the time, La Venta and its all-powerful king dominated the Olmec heartland. Like its predecessor San Lorenzo, which flourished between 1200 and 900 B.C., La Venta was organized around a single dominant plaza featuring administrative buildings, elaborate monuments, and elite residences.

Why are the Olmec known as the mother culture? ›

Answer and Explanation: The Olmec civilization is called the mother civilization of Mesoamerica because the Olmecs laid the foundation that future Mesoamerican civilizations would follow. Specifically, the Olmecs grew maize, and were highly successful at it. This allowed them to sustain their growing population.

What did the Olmec eat? ›

Clams, alligators, and various types of fish were an important part of their diet. The Olmecs preferred to make settlements near water, as the floodplains were good for agriculture and fish and shellfish could be had more easily. For meat, they had domestic dogs and the occasional deer.

Why are the Olmec heads important? ›

Some have suggested that the heads were moved around for ritual purposes or that the heads were used to signify political power. It has also been speculated that some of the heads were buried as part of ancestor worship or by rulers hoping to neutralize a predecessor's influence.

Who was in Mexico before the Aztecs? ›

Early History – The Aztecs

Mexico was first populated more than 13,000 years ago by complex indigenous civilisations. The great Aztec empire was preceded by advanced civilisations including the Olmec, Toltec, Teotihuacan, Zapotec and Maya.

What is the oldest civilization in the Americas? ›

With more than 5 thousand years old, Caral is considered the oldest civilization in the American continent. Between the years 3000 and 2500 B. C., the people from Caral began to form small settlements in what is now the province of Barranca, that interacted with each other to exchanged products and merchandise.

How old are the Olmec heads? ›

The Olmec colossal heads are stone representations of human heads sculpted from large basalt boulders. They range in height from 1.17 to 3.4 metres. The heads date from at least 900 BC and are a distinctive feature of the Olmec civilization of ancient Mesoamerica.

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