After the decline of La Venta, in 400 BC, the Olmec pretty much disappeared from the historical record. La Venta went into decline and was eventually abandoned altogether. the great Olmec city of La Venta went into decline, taking the Olmec Classic era with it. The mother culture of all mesoamerican civilizations. The extensive trade networks the Olmecs had used fell apart. They also made great strides forward in writing, astronomy, and calendrics. Over 600 courts have been found. The Olmecs are frequently forgotten entirely, and the rest are often lumped together or confused, but they were all completely distinct. For example, a volcanic eruption could coat a region in ash or change the course of a river: such a calamity would have been disastrous to the Olmec people. Today, even though the Olmec themselves are long gone, their impact on the world, as one of the six original cradles of civilization, remains intact. Although Tres Zapotes never reached the grandeur of San Lorenzo or La Venta, it nevertheless was the most important city of its time. By 400 BC, though, the Olmec civilization was all but abandoned. 6th Edition. Hat happened to them? The Olmecs flourished for the next 1200 years, spreading throughout southern, western, and central Mexico and present-day Guatemala. No one really knows what happened to the Olmec civilization. it was deliberately destroyed. Even though they had a robust and well-established history of farming, they had also grown dependent on a very specific set of crops. Now that we have a good background on the Olmec and Maya connection, as well as Maya and Olmec genetics, let’s see what this Afrocentric Olmec theory is about. Next … As of 400 BC, the city was mostly abandoned, no new pottery or sculptures were created, no new goods were imported or exported, and the height of the Olmec civilization had passed. Coe, Michael D and Rex Koontz. They arose suddenly and with no apparent prior gradual development. A. Sutherland - AncientPages.com - Of all the lost civilizations of Mesoamerica, that of the Olmec is the oldest and the most mystifying. after the Second World War, they were by no means a forgotten civilization. Professor of History and Latin American Studies, Jurgen Buchenau, discusses the Olmecs and the controversy surrounding their civilizations. The Olmecs were the earliest known major Mesoamerican civilization. It's possible that some natural disaster or shift in weather patterns could have disrupted their fine agricultural balance to an unrecoverable extent. Many of the intellectual accomplishments of the Olmec, such as a writing system and calendar, were eventually adapted and improved by these other cultures. The extensive trade networks the … They were first discovered American archaeologist Matthew Stirling in 1930. 1200-400 BCE. It is primarily known through the study of their architecture and stone carvings. They did, however, go on to trade heavily with surrounding regions, and in this way their culture spread. They were also gifted sculptors, carving stunning colossal heads without the use of metal tools. The most important Epi-Olmec city was Tres Zapotes, Veracruz. Olmec prosperity was initially based on exploiting the fertile and well-watered coastal areas of the Gulf of Mexico to grow such crops as corn and beans (often twice-yearly) which allowed for an agricultural surplus. The Olmecs are especially identified with 17 huge stone heads—ranging in height from 1.47 to 3.4 metres (4.82 to 11.15 feet)—with flat faces and full lips, wearing helmetlike headgear. Jades, sculptures, and pottery in the Olmec style and with distinctly Olmec motifs were no longer created. Unfortunately, there are no writings like the ‘ Popol Vuh’ to tell us more about the Olmecs and their religion, although findings show that emphasis was probably placed on the sun. In exchange for goods such as cacao and crocodile skins, they passed along finely crafted artwork of signature Olmec style, that often incorporated highly stylized human faces. The Olmecs are the lesser-known cousins to the Aztec and Maya, and predate them as the oldest Mesoamerican civilization on record. The people of Tres Zaptoes did not make monumental art on the scale of the olossal heads or the great Olmec thrones, but they nevertheless were great sculptors who left behind many important works of art. In fact, the name "Olmec" is an Aztec word that means "rubber people," as described by Khan Academy, implying that the Olmec may have been among the first to figure out to harden and shape latex from rubber trees. Over-farming and agricultural troubles could have contributed to the demise of the Olmec, as well. Internal strife is also a possibility. The Olmec, Mayan, Incan, and Aztec civilizations are some of the greatest ancient civilizations in history, and yet we know very little about them compared to other parts of the world. When the Olmec culture went into decline, it didn't disappear entirely. It is generally thought that these are portraits of Olmec rulers. Archaeologists have discovered two great Olmec cities: San Lorenzo and La Venta, in the present-day Mexican states of Veracruz and Tabasco respectively. The Olmec were talented stonemasons, who built structures and aqueducts. The Olmec culture developed in the centuries before 1200BC (BCE), and declined around 400BC.We know far less about the Olmecs than we do about, for example, the Aztecs and Mayans. Why did the Olmec Civilization D isappear?. He is a former head writer at VIVA Travel Guides. After the height of the Olmec civilization diminished, the descendants of the faded empire still lived on in an era referred to as Epi-Olmec, as per Thoughtco. The Olmecs: America's First Civilization. The Olmecs thrived in the present-day Mexican states of Veracruz and Tabasco some three thousand years ago. Quote Reply Topic: What happened to the Olmecs Posted: 20 Mar 2014 at 14:18: The Olmecs were an early American culture that existed between ~ 1200 and 400 BCE, in the Gulf area of Mexico. The first Olmec centre, San Lorenzo, was more or less abandoned around 900 BC at about the same time that La Venta rose to prominence. Back to Page 1 . Because this civilization declined two thousand years before the arrival of the first Europeans into the region, no one is absolutely certain which factors led to its downfall. Less dramatic climate changes, such as a drought, could severely affect their favored crops. The Epi-Olmec culture is a link of sorts between the classic Olmec and the Veracruz Culture, which would begin to thrive to the north of the Olmec lands about 500 years later. Christopher Minster, Ph.D., is a professor at the ​Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador. Diehl, Richard A. With the fall of La Venta came the end of classic Olmec culture. It has been speculated that the Olmecs derived in part from the neighboring Mokaya or Mixe–Zoque cultures. New York: Thames and Hudson, 2008. Page 2 . More than 1,500 years before the Maya flourished in Central America, 25 centuries before the Aztecs conquered large swaths of Mexico, the mysterious Olmec people were building the first great culture of Mesoamerica. On the first discovery, he then wrote in his report: Archaeologists are still collecting clues that will unravel the mystery of what caused this mighty civilization to go into decline. 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