By: Kearstin Sharp
- The Olmec were the first Mesoamerican pre-columbian civilization.
- It has been thought to have set many of the fundamental patterns shown by later american indian cultures of Mexico. Most notably of these the Maya and Aztec.
The Olmec lived in the hot, humid lowlands along the Gulf Coast in what is now southern Veracruz and Tabasco states in southern Mexico.
- The Nahuatl name for these people, Olmecatl, or Olmec in the modern language, means or “people of the rubber country," or "rubber people."
- The chief Olmec sites are San Lorenzo, La Venta, Laguna de los Cerros, and Tres Zapotes that is now southern Mexico. Much of what is known about the Olmec was inferred from archaeological excavations at these sites.
- The Olmec are usually identified with 17 huge stone heads—ranging in height from 1.47 to 3.4 metres. They have flat faces and full lips and are wearing helmetlike head peices. It is thought that these are representations of Olmec rulers.
- The Olmecs developed a wide trading network. Between 1100 and 800 BC their influence spread northwestward towards the Valley of Mexico and southeastward toward parts of Central America.