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13 Cards in this Set

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How do we know the Olmecs had complexity of social, political, economic order and pattern of unity?
By a constellation of common art motifs and patterns and monumental architecture not seen before in New World
What are common patterns seen in the Olmec culture?
1. 1/2 jaguar, 1/2 man deity
2. jade sculptures
3. iron ore mirrors
4. construction of large earthen platforms
5. construction of earthen pyramids
6. Carving of huge basalt boulders into the form of human heads=regional chiefs?
Why did this complex society develope?
due to population growth facilitated by abundant and diverse habitats of the Olmec.
How did ranking emerge?
Michael Coe; families that controlled most productive lands could produce a surplus= amass wealth and power. They were prob. initially big men and then chiefs.
Mobilize popn. to build monuments, further legitimizing elevated social and economic status.
What were the Olmec capitals?
San Lorenzo
La Venta
Laguna de los Cerros
Describe San Lorenzo
it emerged c. 3250B.P.
1. Had rich alluvial soil and was situated along main river used to transport goods across Olmec realm.
2. Had elaborate water supply system. Grove discovered aquaduct which delivered drinking water to residents.
3. Basalt heads, largest over 3m and 40 000 kg also discovered by David Grove.
La Venta
Closest to rich estuary habitat. Had access to rubber, salt and cacao.
Describe Laguna de los Cerros.
Was situated next to Tuxtla Mountains form were they got basalt rock from for building the heads and buildings/monumnets.
What evidence is there for a large labour force?
1. Enormous amounts of land had to be moved to construct platforms and pyramids.
2. modified environment/landscape ie San Lorenzo; a natural topographic emminense was added to and flattened.
3. The transport of huge quantities of basalt from Tuxtla mountains to San Lorenzo 80 km away.
Were there differential burial practices?
1. Auth. of leaders seen not just in ev. of labour force but burials. ie;leaders buried in sandstone sarcophagus carved into a depiction of a caiman- a Central/S. American crocodile.
2. Grave goods also found ie. artworks, jewelry and sculptures.
What were the population estimates of the cities and were did their labour come from?
Popn. for largest Olmec site c. 1000. Centers likely recieved labour of tens of thousands living in small farming villages and regional centers in area surrounding ceremonial center
What unified the Olmec?
a common religious iconography providing ideological and symbolic support for sociopolitical system.
Did the Olmec have a writing system?
They had the earliest form of writing in the New World. Stela- a carved monument- was found at TRES ZAPOTES, with Hieroglyphic inscriptions. It could be read as it was the same writing system as used by the Maya.