Olmec Head

HISTORY OF THE OLMEC

The Olmec civilisation prospered in formative Mesoamerica from circa 1200BC to 400BC and is generally regarded as the forerunner of all subsequent Mesoamerican cultures such as the Aztecs and Mayans. Centred in the Gulf of Mexico (now the states of Veracruz and Tabasco), their influence and trade activity spread from 1200BC reaching as far-south as what we now know as Nicaragua. The first significant urban centre was in San Lorenzo and remained so for almost 300 years until the city was destroyed and its great monuments defaced. La Venta thus became the Olmec Capital circa 900BC until it too was destroyed circa 400BC to 300BC, ending the Olmec as a civilisation.

The first true civilisation of the New World left behind a lasting legacy however. The Olmec developed what is often regarded as the very first alphabet, calendar and system of arithmetic in the New World and their magnetic compass pre-dated the Chinese by several centuries. They became synonymous with sculpture and their craftsmanship was reflected in the form of large basalt statues, masks and pyramids. The mysterious monumental portraits of their rulers were carved out of the hardest of stones and stood almost 3 metres high and weighed as much as 15 tonnes. They were carved from volcanic boulders and were carried over 90 kilometres to where their resting places were discovered. To this day, experts are in awe of the precision and skill required to carve such sculptures without the use of metal tools. The task of transporting these boulders demonstrated an advanced, well-organised society – unparalleled in Middle America at that time.

Today, the few Olmec remnants that survived and that have been preserved show us of their technical excellence, their ingenuity and craftsmanship. At Olmec Search and Olmec Consulting, we utilise our own technical excellence, ingenuity and craftsmanship to source the very best ‘heads’ on behalf of our clients.