Perhaps best known for their incredibly detailed figure artworks, as defining their culture, the Mesoamerican Olmec flourished around 1400 BCE near the Bay of Campeche off the Gulf of Mexico. In addition to building large thrones and monuments, they also carved colossal sized heads weighing up to 50 tons and transported them nearly 62 miles to the Olmec heartland. Three of six artifacts discovered in the heartland have given the impression that the Long Count calendar may have been created and used by the Olmec before the Mayans. Records indicate in 800 BCE, The Great Pyramid, of La Venta was built oriented precisely 8 degrees Northwest, and in 300 BCE, the entire Olmec civilization vanished without any hint to where they might have went and why.
Olmec culture is strikingly similar to that of the Inca, Aztecs, and Mayans, demonstrating similar beliefs in origination, construction methods, and sharing techniques for passing along ancient knowledge. It is theorized by some, that the disappearance of Olmec was largely attributed to the building of new civilizations, like the Inca, Mayan and Aztec empires, as the rapidly growing population in Central Mexico split off. It's incredible to even consider, an entire civilization, disappearing without a trace. Yet, the artifacts discovered might be pointing researchers in another direction. One which the Olmec civilization was forced to adapt to a quickly changing environment, perhaps simply to the point of altering belief systems and becoming a new culture, leaving the Olmec behind with giant carved heads in tribute to the legacy.
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