Olmec, the first elaborate pre-Columbian civilization of Mesoamerica (c. 1200-400 bce) and one that is thought to have set many of the fundamentals patterns evinced by later American Indian cultures of Mexico and Central America, notably the Maya and the Aztec.

In the late 20th century a stone slab engraved with symbols that appear to have been the Olmec writing system (sometimes called the isthnian) was discovered in the villiage of Cascajal, near San Lorenzo.

The Olmec Flourished during Mesoamerica's formative period, dating roughly from 1500 bce to about 400 bce pre-olmer cultures had flourished in the area about 2500 bce but by by 1600-1500 bce early olmec

The Olmecs developed a wide trading network a wide trading network, and between 1100 and 800 bce their cultural influence northwestward to the Valley of Mexico and southeastward to parts of Central America