Olmec Culture: Cradle of Civilization
Sometime after 3000 BC the people settling along the fertile southern coasts of the Gulf of Mexico began forming a society. The “Olmec” (as they would later be called by the Aztecs) are one of the earliest cultures in Mesoamerica. They evolved without outside influence, making them what archaeologists refer to as a “pristine” or “cradle” civilization, one of only six in the world.

The early Olmec were likely a network of farming and fishing communities, but by 1200 BC they began to build incredible stone cities. They created monumental pyramids, boulevards and temple complexes. These sites, such as the magnificent Tres Zapotes, were focal points for extensive trade networks and became primary models for the Teotihuacan, Aztec and Mayan cities that would come centuries later.

Today, we marvel at the Olmecs skill with stone. In addition to the elaborate architecture in their ruin cities they left behind enormous carved stone heads and innumerable artifacts. They made polished obsidian mirrors, delicate jade spoons, jewelry and burial masks – proving mastery in selecting, carving and polishing even the hardest stone.

Olmec Maskette   Olmec Jade Maskette      Sitting Figure Mexico Olmec Culture   Standing FIgure Mexico Olmec Culture