The ancient Olmec civilization was buried and lost beneath Mexico’s jungles for ages. Archaeologists are finally learning the mysteries of this enigmatic civilization due to recent finds like the ones announced earlier this week.
Researchers discovered a sequence of magnificent relief carvings that are thought to date back to the heyday of the Olmecs, about 1200-700 BC. This astonishing discovery gives scholars a far better grasp of one of Mesoamerica’s most fascinating cultures.
The first Mesoamerican civilization identified is the Olmec civilization, commonly referred to as the “mother culture” of Mesoamerica. The Nahuatl phrase local or local, which means “rubber people,” is whence the word “Olmec” originates.
In the Mexican state of Tabasco’s town of Tenosique, an old Mayan city from the late Olmec era has been discovered (900-400 BC).
The reliefs are 1.4 meters in diameter and composed of limestone. Both share the same imagery: an enormous square-shaped visage with a wreath and jaguar symbols. A pair of crossed arms can be seen beneath the face, and footprints can be seen on the sides.
Archaeologists believe the reliefs originated near the mouths of the Usumacinta and San Pedro rivers in the Middle Usumacinta region.
Based on similar reliefs discovered elsewhere, the researchers believe the reliefs at Balancán and Villahermosa portray local rulers conducting ceremonial contortionism. They induce a trance-like state by reducing the blood and oxygen supply to the brain.
Around 500-300 BC, the Maya adopted the Olmec style of circular contortionist reliefs at sites like Caracol in Belsize, where the coastal plain of Tabasco was ‘Mayanised.’
The Olmec reliefs will be relocated to the Pomoná Site Museum, which currently houses another replacement of the same type.
The Olmec civilization is one of the most enigmatic in Mesoamerica. This latest finding sheds more light on this mysterious culture, allowing us to understand better their art, religion, and way of life. It serves as a reminder that there are still many mysteries about our past to be discovered and that archaeology is a constantly evolving science that can teach us new things about ourselves every day.
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