Who were the Olmecs?
The Olmec religious practices of sacrifice, cave rituals, pilgrimages, offerings, ball-courts, pyramids and a seeming awe of mirrors, was also passed on to all subsequent civilizations in Mesoamerica until the Spanish Conquest in the 16th century CE.
Two great Olmec cities are known: San Lorenzo and La Venta. 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 Civilization was one of the most influential ancient civilizations of the early Americas, and though its dominance of the region faded in the last centuries before the Common Era, the Olmec civilization is commonly thought to be the “mother culture” of many other cultures that appeared in the region in later
The Olmecs were apparently the first Mesoamerican people to fathom the concept of zero, develop a calendar, and create a hieroglyphic writing system. Also, they are credited for the discovery of the first conduit drainage system known in the Americas.
Olmec homes were very simple and made out of logs, heavy stone, and clay. Olmecs liked to live near flood plains so built their houses on small mounds or platforms. They also lived in buildings with earth packed around poles which were used as sleeping area, dining room, and shelter.
They were the first Mesoamerican civilization, and laid many of the foundations for the civilizations that followed. Among other “firsts”, the Olmec appeared to practice ritual bloodletting and played the Mesoamerican ballgame, hallmarks of nearly all subsequent Mesoamerican societies.
The Olmec were American Indians, not Negroes (as Melgar had thought) or Nordic supermen.”
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.
The end of the Olmecs The Olmec population declined sharply between 400 and 350 BCE, though it is unclear why. Archaeologists speculate that the depopulation was caused by environmental changes, specifically by the silting-up of rivers, which choked off the water supply.
The Olmecs lived in hot, humid lowlands along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico in what is now southern Veracruz and Tabasco states in southern Mexico.
Following Toltec decline, a further period of unrest in the Late Postclassic Period lasted until 1428, when the Aztec defeated the rival city of Azcapotzalco and became the dominant force in central Mexico. This last native Mesoamerican empire fell to the Spaniards, led by Hernán Cortés, in 1521.
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.
Some historians assert that the Mayans were the descendants of the Olmecs.
To the ancient civilisations of Mexico; the Olmecs, the Mayans and the Aztecs, the jaguar was worshipped as a deity.