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Olmecs and Chavin
Transcript of Olmecs and Chavin
Introduction to the Olmec Civilization
Olmec Traditions and Culture
They are believed to have been centered around the southern Golf Coast of Mexico (near the modern Mexican city of Veracruz).
Not much is known about the Olmecs and many questions about them have not been answered yet.
Olmec means "rubber people," but this name did not come from the people themselves, but rather the rubber trees that inhabit this region.
They lived from 8000 to 7000 B.C.E.
The Olmecs are sometimes called the "mother civilization" of the Americas.
Traditions and Society
Domestication of Animals
Agriculture of the Olmecs
The Olmecs cultivated foods such as
The Chavin Cult
By 4000 B.C.E., the Olmecs have begun to cultivate maize, or corn. It became the staple food for this region.
By 2000 B.C.E., agriculture had spread throughout the Mesoamerica.
Arts of Olmec
One of the most familiar aspect of the Olmec is their artwork, particularly the aptly named Colossal Heads.
Although their diet consisted mainly of food that they cultivated, the Olmecs still had a small variety of domesticated animals used as a food supply.
Those animals include:
Small dogs (food)
Most large animals in this region were not able to be domesticated and therefore was not used as a source of food.
By around 12,000 B.C.E., people had migrated from Central America to South America, hunting and gathering indigenous plants and animals.
In 1000 B.C.E., the people of the Andean Region began agriculture. They were able to create large and complex societies because of agriculture..
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Cultivation and permanent settlements began between 2500 and 2000 B.C.E. with beans, peanuts, and sweet potatoes as the main food source.
Shortly after 1000 B.C.E., the Chavin Cult, a religion, appeared in the Andes. This religion is believed to have been very popular from 900-800 B.C.E., but vanished in 300 B.C.E.
Chavin Artwork and Artifacts
Mesoamerican life included ceremonial centers, pyramids, temples, and palaces, where elites, priests, and artisans might have resided.
The Olmecs worshipped religion highly, and most likely spent most of their days with activities having to do with religion.
The Olmecs loved art and were builders as well as traders. They had paved roads as well as temples that were built on top of pyramids. It is believed that they had also developed their own number system, writing system, and a calendar.
The Chavin’s started their civilization in the Northern Andes Mountains in Peru.
Their civilization existed from 900 B.C.E. to 200 B.C.E. One of the most important architecture from the Chavin culture is the Chavín de Huántar Temple.
The Chavin’s created a drainage system that prevented the temple from being flooded and destroyed by water.
The Chavin civilization was also advanced in skills and knowledge in metallurgy.
The blackware stirrup-spout jar on the left shows two of the most powerful animals of the jungle: the caiman and the harpy eagle.
End of the Chavin Civilization
The Chavin Architecture left a big impact on the Peruvian civilization. The question is: What happened to them? The Chavin's population started to decline as the Christian Era was beginning, leaving behind the Chavin temples and arts. To this day, their characteristic traces are left on numerous artifacts.
The Epi-Olmec, the script of the Olmec people, is very similar to the Mayan script. This means that the Olmec probably had a strong influence on the Mayans.
It is logophonetic, meaning it uses signs.
In contemporary Mexico and Central America corn is also a big part of their diet and is a staple food. What does that mean?
+1 for influence
La Venta and Tres Zapotes
The first ceremonial center is located in present day San Lorenzo and was built in around 1200 B.C.E. This location served as their capital for hundreds of years.
A ritual handball game was used to select victims to be offered to the gods.
The game was played between two teams. They could only touch the ball with their knees or hips and was not allowed to touch it with their hands.
The captain of the winning team was sacrificed to the gods and the family of the captain would be forever honored and respected because of this.
A similar game is used in future civilizations (Mayans, etc.)
Olmec influence extended to central and southern regions of modern day Mexico and then to modern day El Salvador. The Olmecs used military force and trade to spread their influences.
Later Mesoamerican societies adopted how the Olmecs cultivated maize, built ceremonial centers, maintained a calendar, and other rituals.
Fall of the Olmecs
The fall of the Olmec civilization is perhaps the most complex mystery of the Olmecs themselves.
Archaeologists have found that their statues, monuments, capitals and ceremonial centers were all destroyed and buried. Although it is possible that there could have been intruders that came and destroyed the lands, scholars believe that the Olmecs intentionally destroyed it due to civil conflicts.
The Olmec and the Chavin are two civilizations that end up being very important factors in the making of the later civilizations, such as the more famous Aztec, Mayan, and Incan.
La Venta (800-400 B.C.E.) and Tres Zapotes (400-100 B.C.E.) were the new ceremonial centers after San Lorenzo and its influence had begun to fade off.
These two sites were where agriculture thrived due to abundant rainfall.
Their cultures and traditions eventually influence the way the late civilizations work. Although the Olmec and Chavin were completely independent of each other, they still served the same purpose.
The Olmec colossal heads are at least seventeen monumental stone representations of human heads sculpted from large basalt boulders.
More Information on the Heads
Most have been dated to 1500–1000 B.C.E. and some 1000–400 B.C.E.
The smallest weigh 6 tons, while the largest is estimated to weigh 40 to 50 tons.
These heads were built to look over their villages.
Other Art Works
Face mask made out of jade
A baby figurine
These art works show various type
of art works that was created in Mesoamerica that shows culture and ceramic traditions
The Tello Obelisk is a giant sculpted shaft featuring images of plants and animals including caymans, birds, crops, and human figures. The illustrations on this artifact may possibly tell a creation story.
Tenon heads are found throughout Chavín de Huántar and are one of the most popular images associated with the Chavin civilization. Tenon heads are large stone carvings of fanged jaguar heads which stick out from the tops of the interior walls.
Effects of Geography on the Chavin
The Olmec rain god, often depicted as a jaguar
Why a rain god of all the other natural forces to worship highly?
There has always been an abundant amount of rain in present day Mexico, which assisted them in agriculture.
"We are most affected by the things closest to us."
The mountainous highlands and coastal regions provided natural harvest with its cool air and moist climate. However, during 8000 B.C.E., the climate started to become warm and dry, allowing humans to experiment with agriculture with the pressure for natural harvest increasing due to the climate change.
However, due to the mountains surrounding the civilizations, they couldn't communicate or trade with Mesoamerica or other Andean groups.
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