The Olmecs

The Olmecs
Mesoamerica is mainly known to the world through the Mayan and Aztec civilizations . Nevertheless, many other peoples have also coexisted in these lands over time. Peoples less known, but yet just as enigmatic and powerful, and who have greatly influenced the culture of the latter. The Olmecs , one of the first great pre-Columbian civilizations, are thus one of the best examples, and will be the subject of today's episode.

But who were them Olmecs _ ?
Olmec civilization map
The Olmecs are an ancient pre-Columbian people who flourished in the heart of the Gulf of Mexico regions and along the Pacific coast from 2500 BC. JC , until about 500 BC. JC .

It is the oldest known civilization in Mesoamerica and also one of the most mysterious. A civilization of great importance since it played a major role in the history of this region, influencing most of the civilizations that succeeded it.

Indeed, this people who mastered agriculture (corn, cotton, cocoa, etc.), and the commerce, was also a master of impressive architecture and art.
Great pyramid of La Venta, Olmec civilization
The first pyramids, artificial earth mounds, temples, or even steles of this region and integrating cosmology as a whole, therefore seem to have been made by them.

A cosmology and artistic and architectural styles, which then spread to all the peoples of Mesoamerica.

Nevertheless, some particular characteristics of their art differentiate them from other peoples. The Olmec culture was defined in the first place by its art.

The colossal heads made from heavy monolithic blocks weighing several tons are an example of this the more convincing, and have moreover become them most famous representatives of art Olmec .
Olmec Civilization
Statues, figurines, jade masks and even mosaics also show the talent of these thousand-year-old artists.
Olmec status
Olmec figure
Olmec Jade Mask
Olmec Mosaic
Additionally, the Olmecs may have been the first civilization in America to develop a writing system. A hypothesis stated following the discovery of several hieroglyphs, including those of the Stè le de Cascajal which includes hieroglyphs, among the oldest in the world (900 BC).
Reproduction of the Stele of Cascajal
 Signs similar to the engravings made by the Olm ec civilization and which were discovered a little more than a kilometer from the great Olm ec site of San Lorenzo, in Mexico. However, the ste le leaves some archaeologists skeptical about the authenticity of the hieroglyphs because the stone was not unearthed by the researchers themselves.

Then, around 500 BC. JC, began the decline of the Olmec civilization, without once again, that we can know the exact causes.

Nevertheless, the vestiges of this civilization and its culture have not completely disappeared and have continued to endure through the various Mesoamerican cultures that preceded it, whether in terms of writing, architecture, rituals religion, the calendar or even social structures.

Even if many mysteries still exist about this vanished civilization...
Extinct civilization Olmecs
Olmec Civilization Art
Olmec art