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History : pre-classic
 Page updated on 03.10.2015
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Pre-hispanic Mexico


The Olmecs

Olmec statueThe apparition of the first societies corresponds to what the archaeologists call the Pre-Classic. The testimonies from this time are about a territory covering the western part of Mexico, the central highland, the Gulf Coast, Oaxaca and South-East towards Central America, meaning almost the whole Mesoamerica. Under this still Neolithic substrate, we can see a specific civilization, known under the name of Olmecs, developing in the Gulf Coast, at the merge of the actual States of Veracruz and Tabasco.

     Right picture : Olmec statue

The most important centers, like San Lorenzo, La Venta and Tres Zapotes, are characterized by the presence of monticules, remains of an architecture made of platforms, terraces, drainage canals and pyramidal constructions. This architecture, however, contains all the elements and the disposition characteristic of the constructions and urban Mesoamerican groups. These blocks built by the Olmecs, for example, form groups disposed around central places, with a North-South orientation, that we’d find later in Teotihuacán, for example. The inscriptions carved on the monuments indicate the existence of a calendar and a primitive script that will develop later in the civilizations of the neighboring regions. The snake, the birds, the monkeys and the fish as well as the jaguar are the other familiar designs of animal frequently used by this shaman people who seem to believe in the hereafter. The Olmec civilization appeared 1500 BC. It is famed for the monumental “Olmecs heads”, stone sculptures, and it is conceived as the mother civilization of Mexico.

It went away slowly about the second century BC in the region that was its crib but lived a longer time somewhere else.

cabeza de hacha (Napatecuhtlán)
Above picture : cabeza de hacha (Napatecuhtlán) (head of ax)



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