January 10, 2010
Olmec civilization emerged roughly 3,000 years ago in the eastern lowlands along Mexico's Gulf Coast in what is today the region of Veracruz and Tabasco. In many ways, it provided the foundation for all Mesoamerican art, much the way ancient Greek art did for subsequent European culture. Still, Olmec society today remains very much a mystery. For example, no one is quite sure what the monumental, 10-ton stone sculptures of helmeted human heads were used for -- although it is certain that anybody who came upon one at a time when the wheel was not yet in use and carving implements were rudimentary would know he was in the jaw-dropping presence of extraordinary power.
November 9, 2008 |
Leonardo Patterson made his first archaeological find at age 7 in a yam field in his native Costa Rica -- a piece of clay pottery his cousin said could be thousands of years old. It launched a lifelong fascination with pre-Columbian art, and a career checkered by charges of smuggling and selling forgeries. In April, Munich police seized more than 1,000 Aztec, Maya, Olmec and Inca antiquities from Patterson after an international investigation and a chase across Europe. "The guy is legendary in the field," said Michael Coe, a retired Yale anthropology professor who told authorities that a 1997 Patterson exhibit in Spain included possible fakes.
January 27, 2007 |
A 2,500-year-old city influenced by the Olmecs -- often referred to as the "mother culture" of Mesoamerica -- has been discovered in Mexico, hundreds of miles away from the Olmecs' Gulf Coast territory, archeologists said Wednesday. Two statues and architectural details at the site, known as Zazacatla, indicate that the inhabitants adopted Olmec styles when they changed from a simple, egalitarian society to a more complex, hierarchical one.
September 15, 2006 |
Archeologists working on the gulf coast of Mexico have uncovered a 3,000-year-old stone tablet that bears the oldest writing in the Western Hemisphere and the first text unambiguously linked to the Olmec empire -- the enigmatic civilization believed to be the progenitor of the Aztecs and Maya. The 26-pound tablet, about the size of a legal pad, bears 62 symbols arrayed in a manner suggesting an organized text. "We have long thought that the Olmec would have writing," said archeologist William A.
May 13, 2006 |
A carved monolith unearthed in Mexico may show that the Olmec civilization, one of the oldest in the Americas, was more widespread than thought or that another culture thrived alongside it 3,000 years ago. Findings at the newly excavated Tamtoc archeological site in the north-central state of San Luis Potosi may prompt some scholars to rethink whether Mesoamerica's earliest peoples were based in southern Mexico.
August 2, 2005 |
Analysis of 3,000-year-old pottery shards from the ancient Olmec capital of San Lorenzo and other sites contradicts the notion among some researchers that the Olmec civilization was the "mother culture" that laid the foundation for the Inca, Maya and other civilizations of Central and South America. Many researchers believe that the Olmec were the primary culture of the region, dominating, inspiring and ultimately raising the other chiefdoms to the level of civilization.