Olmec Civilization

By: Tucker Windhurst

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Periods of Olmec

Olmec 1:  1500 B.C.- 1200 B.C. Most inventions accured, domestication, permanent communties, baskets and mats, polished stone.Olmec 2  1200 B.C. - 600 B.C. Olmec 3   600 B.C. - 100 B.C. Post Olmec 100 B.C.+


Located on The Gulf Coast of Mexico and Tuxlas Mountain Range. The area was just about 120 miles long and 60 miles wide.


350,000 people lived in the Olmec Civilization.  It was a densley pouplated region they lived in, there was about 40-60 people per square mile.

Class systems and agriculture

Because of highly populated areas irrigation was created so that everyone could have water. A drainage system was also invented by the olmec to prevent flooding during flooding season. There was class systems or in other words specialization. There was the elite class, the middle class, and the lower class. It may have been thought that warriors were elite but researchers still dont know if they had warriors. The only evidence that hey may have had warriors and wars was in paintings and sculptures.. The farmers were more elite and were used to high amounts of trade. Farmers grew and tended farms outside of vilages and farmed using a maze pattern. Early olmec may have relied on the massive amount of rainfall to grow the crops for them. Due to leisure time the Olmec civilization learned how the moon and lunar cycles effected crops.


The Olmec built temples for religion. The temples were used not only for religion but for food storage, government buildings and housing for goveners, kings and emperors. The Olmec worshiped a god with a jaguar face and a human body, but were Polytheistic.(worshipping more than one god.) They believed in what is thought by scientist around 12 different gods.

Way of life

The people worked hard for the most part to work against flood and produce food.  These people traded from tribe to tribe and artifacts of olmec have been found all over Mexico.  These people had art including massive stone heads and had music.  Rituals accured for burials.
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Trade was easy due to the vast amount of rivers in the area. The Olmec produced salt and sacoa from the sea and tapped rubber from trees. The Olmec were the first civilization to tap rubber. The three top cities for trade in the Olmec were San Lorenzo, La Venta ,and Tre Zapotes.


The olmecs had rulers called tu. There people did as they said and they passed there royalty down through there family. They lived in temples and ruled city-states.


The Olmec invented A writting system based on hieroglyphics. They also invented a calender to mesoamerica and invented a drainage system due to all the flooding in the area. They also understood the concept of of zero and linear equations. Gravity was also understood by them.


The Olmec collapse could have been from a war from another civilization but there is no actual known evidence that this happened. Another theory on there collapse was that the climate couldnt support food for them


The Olmecs domesticated a variety of things including animals and plants. They didnt domesticate to many animals but domesticated a variety of plants to get the nutrients the people of the Olmec needed.


The Olmecs somewhat started sports in the mesoamerica region with a game called handball. In hand ball you were only alowed to use your hip and shoulder and there was a goal at either end of the court. The winning teams captain would then be sacrificed to the gods and his family would be held in honor for the rest of there lives.
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The Olmec relied on a variety of foods during there life span, including beans, madioc, and maize. They were thought to be the first people to have eaten choclate. For meat they would eat turtles, dogs and they would use white tailed deer in rituals.