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Title: The Olmec Author: IRC Last modified by: C4T7 Created Date: 1/31/2010 12:06:49 AM Document presentation format: On-screen Show (4:3) Company – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The%20Olmec


1
The Olmec
  • Notes for sink spiral

2
EARLY CIVILIZATIONS
3
The ancient Olmec Civilization
  • The ancient Olmec civilization is now considered
    to be one of the earliest great civilizations in
    Mesoamerica.
  •  This civilization came and went long before the
    Aztec empire was even thought of, and yet they
    left their mark on the peoples of Mexico and
    beyond, and developed a complex culture which is
    still echoed today, probably in ways we don't yet
    even realize.

4
Clips of Olmecs
  • http//videos.howstuffworks.com/hsw/7792-mexico-th
    e-olmecs-video.htm
  • http//videos.howstuffworks.com/discovery/28709-di
    scovery-atlantis-olmec-civilization-and-atlantis-v
    ideo.htm
  • http//videos.howstuffworks.com/discovery/28710-di
    scovery-atlantis-olmec-heads-video.htm

5
MESOAMERICA
6
Geography and Ecology of Olmec Area
  • Located in southern Veracruz and Tabasco
  • Olmec zone is about 125 mi long and 50 wide
  • High rainfall - over 300 cm/year
  • Dense tropical forest
  • Formed by Volcanic upthrust of the Sierra de los
    Tuxtlas

7
Who were the Olmec?
  • Olmec means dweller in the land of rubber,
    refers to people who lived along Gulf of Mexico,
    southern Veracruz, and western Tabasco.
  • Olmec lived in this area between 1500 B.C. and
    100 A.D.
  • Sometimes called the mother culture of
    Mesoamerica.

8
Olmecs most influential early Mesoamerican
civilization (1200 400 B.C.)
  • The center of Olmec civilization was located near
    the tropical Atlantic coast (gulf coast) of what
    are now the Mexican states of Veracruz and
    Tobasco

9
Map of Mesoamerica
http//mexico.udg.mx/historia/precolombinas/ingles
/olmecas/
10
(No Transcript)
11
SOCIETY
  • Divided into two groups
  • the elite group- lived in the small urban centers
    (towns, really)
  • the common people -lived in the rural areas

12
WHAT DID THEY DO?
  • Agriculture, Religion and Commercial Trade
  • . The elite lived off of the agriculture of the
    common people, but they probably didn't rule over
    the agricultural populations.
  • They carried out religious ceremonies centered
    in the towns
  • Commercial trade in luxury and artistic items.

13
FACTS
  • Depended on rich plant diversity and fishing
  • Had craft and social specialization
  • Not much known about the political structure but
    thought to be based on kinship
  • The authority of the rulers and their kin groups
    is suggested by a series of colossal carved stone
    heads
  • FINDINGS

14
FACTS
  • Devised a crude writing system.
  • Put up elaborate ceremonial centers.
  • Famous for the basalt heads- multi ton carvings
    of rulers faces.
  • carving

15
Olmec facts
  • The Olmec were polytheistic, and most of their
    deities had dual (male/female) natures
  • Had shamans that provided practical advice about
    the periodic rains essential to agricultural life
  • Produced a calendar that was used to organize
    ritual life and agriculture.
  • Also played a game similar to soccer, played on a
    special court by teams in protective gear.

16
Olmec Decline
  • Each major Olmec center was eventually abandoned,
    its monuments defaced and buried and its
    buildings destroyed. Archaeologists can only
    infer what happened.
  • 1. evidence of internal upheavals
  • 2. military defeat
  • 3. rituals associated with death of ruler

17
End of Olmec?
  • Around 300 BC, the Olmec vanished for reasons
    that vanished with them.
  • We do know, however, that much of their culture
    and social structure was absorbed by other
    peoples.
  • The Olmecs, as far as we can tell, are the first
    chain in the development of Mesoamerican culture.

18
Evidence from Pottery
  • He found through chemical analysis of the clays
    and potsherds that while other ancient
    settlements made pottery with symbols and designs
    in the "Olmec style," only the early Olmec
    themselves -- at San Lorenzo near Mexico's Gulf
    Coast -- exported their pottery.
  • This suggests that Olmec was mother culture.

http//www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A329
26-2005Feb17.html
19
Pottery at Etlatongo
Pottery is made from Clay found at San Lorenzo.
Excavated by Jeffrey Blomster and colleagues.
www.archaeology.org/online/features/olmec/
20
Art
  • Jade
  • carved with techniques such as drilling,
    string-sawing, and incising
  • blue-green color
  • until recently, more were known from Guerrero
    than heartland
  • Stingray spines
  • real and jade
  • "icepicks" or perforators
  • Clamshells
  • Ceramic babies

21
Art Cond
  • Mirrors
  • made of polished iron ore (magnetite, ilmenite,
    hematite)
  • Sculpture
  • colossal heads
  • thrones ("altars")
  • figures seated in cave mouths
  • theme of royal descent (ruler with infant God IV)
  • forerunner of ceremonial bar?
  • theme of conquest (ruler grasping a rope with
    captive)

22
Jade
Olmec Figure
Jade Axe
Were-Jaguar
http//isis.csuhayward.edu/dbsw/anthropology/mille
r/3250/03olmec/aolmec2.htmlPHOTO20GALLERY
23
Ceramic
Human Figure
Duck Figure
http//isis.csuhayward.edu/dbsw/anthropology/mille
r/3250/03olmec/aolmec2.htmlPHOTO20GALLERY
24
Thrones/Altars
Altar 4 La Venta
Monument 19 La Venta
Altar 5 La Venta
http//isis.csuhayward.edu/dbsw/anthropology/mille
r/3250/03olmec/aolmec2.htmlPHOTO20GALLERY
25
Colossal Heads
Colossal Head 10 Basalt San Lorenzo
http//isis.csuhayward.edu/dbsw/anthropology/mille
r/3250/03olmec/aolmec2.htmlPHOTO20GALLERY
26
Mutilation
Colossal Head 5 San Lorenzo
Colossal Head 2 San Lorenzo
http//isis.csuhayward.edu/dbsw/anthropology/mille
r/3250/03olmec/aolmec2.htmlPHOTO20GALLERY
27
Calendar
  • The epi-Olmec - from 31B.C. - the peoples who
    subsequently inhabited the same lands and were
    probably descended at least in part from the
    Olmec, seem to have been the earliest users of
    the bar and dot system of recording time.
  • The low relief on this stone shows the detail
    from a four-digit numerical recording, read as
    15.6.16.18. The vigesimal (or base-20) counting
    system has been used across Mesoamerica.
  • A value of 5 is represented by a bar, and a value
    of 1 is represented by a dot, such that the three
    bars and single dot here stands for 16. The Maya
    would later adopt this counting system for their
    Long Count calendar. The date in this relief is
    the oldest recorded date in Mesoamerica,
    corresponding to a day in the year 31 B.C.

Detail of Long Count Date http//www.crystalinks.c
om/olmec.html
28
San Lorenzo, Veracruz
  • Oldest Olmec site
  • Occupied by 1500 B.C.
  • Pottery found from earliest period
  • Monumental sculptures not until 1250 B.C.
  • Carved from basalt which was floated on huge
    rafts from the Tuxtla mountains.
  • Ended around 900 B.C., and all monoliths
    intentionally mutilated or buried.
  • Thought to have been a revolt by the people who
    moved the stone to San Lorenzo and built the
    mounds.

29
San Lorenzo Sculpture
Monument 52 San Lorenzo
Figure 34 Basalt San Lorenzo
30
Located in the eastern part of the state of
Morelos, three peaks rise from the nearly flat
valley floor. These isolated, igneous intrusions
rise over 300 m above the valley floor, and must
have been considered sacred in ancient times, as
they were by the Aztecs and even by the modern
villagers. This place is called Chalcatzingo, a
Nahuatl name that means "the revered or
appreciated place of the Chalcas".
http//instructional1.calstatela.edu/bevans/Art446
-01-Olmec/WebPage-Full.00021.html
31
Monument 9 was found by looters, apparently atop
the "Plaza Central" structure 4. This sculpture
repeats the earth-monster motif of "El Rey" and
"The Governor", here manifested with a full-faced
cruciform-shaped mouth. From the clefts on the
exterior of the mouth, bromeliad-like plants
again grow.
http//instructional1.calstatela.edu/bevans/Art446
-01-Olmec/WebPage-Full.00021.html
32
The most striking carving in Chalcatzingo is
known locally as "El Rey," a representation of an
enthroned ruler, although it is not clear if it
is male or female. "El Rey" seated within the
Earth-monster's mouth has been identified as a
rain deity or the God of the Mountain. The whole
sequence of the reliefs may represent the
collaboration of the clan groups, each one
related to natural elements, in their petitions
through prayers and ritual to bring the rain
clouds from to the mountain of Chalcatzingo, in a
ceremony associated with fertility.
http//instructional1.calstatela.edu/bevans/Art446
-01-Olmec/WebPage-Full.00021.html
33
The relief shows a realistic squash plant that
has its vines, leaves, and young fruits. About 61
cms. from this plant there is a small rectangular
cavity cut out of the bedrock. It was intended
for collecting rain or receiving dedicatory
water. The placement of water at the foot of the
squash plants implies that imitative magic was
the reason the cavity is close to the carving.
http//instructional1.calstatela.edu/bevans/Art446
-01-Olmec/WebPage-Full.00021.html
34
Monument 31 Jaguar as symbol of power and
fertility
http//instructional1.calstatela.edu/bevans/Art446
-01-Olmec/WebPage-Full.00021.html
35
La Venta. c.1000 BC
  • Although modern La Venta is an "island" of high
    ground surrounded by marshes, the Olmec capital
    occupied a ridge overlooking the then active Rio
    Palma River.
  • During the 400 or 500 year occupation of the
    site, both monumental architecture and earthworks
    of colored clays and imported stones were
    completed.

http//instructional1.calstatela.edu/bevans/Art446
-01-Olmec/WebPage-Full.00021.html
36
Jade mosaic mask representing a stylized jaguar.
c. 1000 BC
http//instructional1.calstatela.edu/bevans/Art446
-01-Olmec/WebPage-Full.00021.html
37
Basalt tomb. c.1000 BC
This tomb constructed with giant basalt columns
in the form of a subterranean "log house"
contained the red-pigment-impregnated remains of
two infants accompanied by a rich offering of
jade figurines and jewelry. The basalt columns
are carved in a way that simulates wooden posts.
http//instructional1.calstatela.edu/bevans/Art446
-01-Olmec/WebPage-Full.00021.html
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