A recent study and publication by Mexico’s Museum of National Anthropology (INAH) indicates the Olmec civilization was territorially more expansive than previously thought.
Studies conducted in the pre-Colombian archaeological site of ‘La Venta’ indicate that the Olmec civilization existed beyond the Gulf of Mexico, in the states of Veracruz and Tabasco, where it was centered. Physical evidence from the La Venta site indicate that the Olmec’s, which thrived from 1,200 to 400 BCE, existed well beyond the Gulf of Mexico region into the southern Mexican states of Guerrero and Oaxaca and all the way down into Guatemala.
The ‘La Venta’ site contains the earliest known pyramid of Mesoamerica known as the “Great Pyramid.”
Archaeologists had found previous evidence that the Olmec influence went as far south as Nicaragua but this is the first time that the territorial expansion has been studied and proven with physical evidence.
The study was concentrated in the ‘4th Offering of La Venta’ an archaeological site located within ‘La Venta’ discovered in 1955 in Tabasco, containing 16 jade stone carvings of males and 6 jade columns.
Jade was one of the commonly traded goods of the Olmecs and often used in sculptures and paintings. The jade found in La Venta was also found in Guatemala’s Motagua River and minerals traces in Guerrero and Oaxaca.
La Venta was the second cultural center of the Olmecs, with San Lorenzo being the first. While San Lorenzo declined in importance La Venta surged around 900 BCE. The massive stone heads found throughout the Gulf of Mexico are the most iconic and widely recognized symbols of this ancient civilization.
The study and its conclusions have been documented in the book: “La ofrenda 4 de La Venta.”