That was then, this is now.
In Mexico South, I keep reading about these ancient cultures and realize how lucky I am to be in one of the birthplaces of world cultures. Everywhere I turn there is some archaeological or significant anthropological aspect.
OlmecThe more I learn, the more I learn how much more I have to learn.
Now, I am trying to learn a bit more about the Olmecs, after driving through the heart of Olmec country on the recent trip. Actually, Olmec is not the name of the people, it is a catchall for the culture that existed between 1200BC and 400BC, in part, on the isthmus of Tehuantepec and in Veracruz, Tabasco, Oaxaca and Campeche.
The word “olmec” means “rubber gatherers” as there were/are many rubber trees in the area. They used that rubber to make balls and they invented the “ballgame” that became such an important part of so many cultures. This is a cool site about the game.
Incidentally, I have played a version of the ballgame in Arrozola. Imagine a superball just a bit smaller than a bowling ball. The players wore gloves made of bull’s skull to protect the hands. Man, that ball could sail.
The Olmecs are considered to be the mother of all Mesoamerican cultures. They are believed to be the first western culture to develop writing. They employed the use of zero and invented the long calendar that was used by so many pre-Columbian cultures.
Amazing to think that they existed 3500 years ago.Here is one of the famous large stone helmeted heads (9ft), which are notable not only for their size, but also for the fact that the stone had to be transported very long distances from its source. Experts believe they were brought on boats, which. when one considers the size and weight of these stones, was an amazing achievement.
The Olmecs believed that the jaguar was supernatural, an ancestor, a god. It is at the very core of their beliefs. There is some speculation that the upturned and pouting lips on the large head sculptures are representative of the jaguar. Olmec society was highly evolved with an integrated balance of art, religion and politics and the jaguar was central in all aspects and can be found throughout Olmec art, architecture and writings.
Check the links or as my Aunt Doris would say, “Better you should go.”