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plural Olmec or Olmecs
1. An early Mesoamerican Indian civilization centered in the Veracruz region of southeast Mexico that flourished before the Maya and whose cultural influence was widespread throughout southern Mexico and Central America.
2. A member of any of various peoples who contributed to the Olmec civilization.
History Begins: 4000-1000 BC
Olmecs settled (1500 bc) on the Gulf coast of Mexico and soon developed the first civilization in the western hemisphere. Temple cities and huge stone sculpture date from 1200 bc. A rudimentary calendar and writing system existed. Olmec religion, centering on a jaguar god, and Olmec art forms influenced all later Meso-American cultures.
Olmec, Mesoamerican indigenous people who established the region's first major native civilization. They lived along the central coast of the Gulf of Mexico, just west of the Yucatán Peninsula in the swampy jungle river basins of the present-day Mexican states of Vera Cruz and Tabasco. Over time, they extended their influence through the highlands of Mexico, the Valley of Mexico, known as the Anáhuac, Oaxaca, and westwards to Guerrero. The Olmec flourished between about 1500 and 600 BC. San Lorenzo, their oldest known center, was destroyed around 900 BC. It was replaced by La Venta, a city built in an axial pattern that influenced urban development in Central America for centuries. A mounded earthen pyramid about 30 m (100 ft) high, among the earliest in Mesoamerica, was the center of a complex of temples and plazas.
The Olmec were the first to use stone architecturally and sculpturally, even though it had to be quarried in the Tuxtla Mountains, some 97 km (60 mi) to the west of Tula. Their colossal stone heads of males, about 2.7 m (9 ft) high, can be seen today, along with other Olmec artifacts, in the city of Villahermosa, Mexico. Their writing, a numerical system, was the precursor of Mesoamerican writing. The Olmec civilization established patterns of culture that influenced its successors for centuries to come.
ethnos: Algonquian, Anasazi, Apache, Aztec, Blackfeet, Cherokee, Chikcha, Chickasaw, Crow, Hopi, Inca, Maya, Navajo, Olmec, Pueblo, Toltec, Sioux, Zuni
Jade Carving Outside China
The Indians, most notably the Islamic Mughals, practiced a degree of jade work. In pre-Columbian Mexico and Central America under the Olmec, Aztec, and Mayan rulers, splendid ceremonial objects- axes, knives, masks, and large animal figures- were produced.
- Jose Arguelles - _The Mayan Factor_
Subject: Re: Native American Origins
Date: 1983-09-19 16:32:50 PST
"To judge from their art, the Olmecs comprised two contrasting ethnic types: One was remarkably Negroid, with thick lips, flat broad nose, and a round face... The other Olmec type is strikingly different, sometimes representing an almost Semitic type, with narrow face, sharp profile, strongly hooked nose, thin lips, and a beard that can vary from a small goatee to a full beard... Since neither of the two contrasting Olmec types - the Negroid and the Semitic - bears the slightest resemblance to any ethnic group known to have existed in aboriginal America, whereas both represent physical types characteristic of the ancient civilizations of the Old World, their sudden appearance as culture-bringers in the New World, just in the area where the natural ocean conveyer arrives from Africa, has led to a flurry of speculation..."
Thor Heyerdahl in
`The Quest for America'