Olmec Essay

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The Olmec were the first major Mesoamerican culture, their beliefs, art, structure and agriculture influenced civilizations that came later. They are known for their engineering skills and their huge sculpted heads carved from black volcanic rock. They are also the first known Mesoamerican culture to develop a writing system.The Mayan civilization developed very special religious centers and religious systems that grew into huge cities with many people. Mayans are known for the writing system and a number system that used the concept of zero.The Aztecs were a culture based on war they built a capital called Tenochtitlán. They are known for conquering many groups that were established around them. They demanded slaves and captives which would …show more content…
The Olmecs believed in animal-human transformations and how they came from caves. They were big on stone carvings, rock paintings, and religious imagery. “Olmec media for art and symbolic expression were jade, basalt, clay, and the earth itself in the forms of caves, hills, and artificial volcanoes such as was used at the ceremonial civic center of La Venta to represent an earth pyramid” (Carrasco pg 49). La Venta was an example of how The Olmecs built ceremonial spaces and sacred spaces from earthly materials. The Olmecs also established a very advanced drainage system and a social organization with an emphasis on religious symbolism. These accomplishments served as a base for later cultures and their beliefs, structure, and rituals. The Classic period is considered the peak of the Maya civilization, it is remembered as a time where they had distinctive writing and calendric systems, and amazing architecture with pyramids, palaces, and ball courts. “Recent studies have revealed a more typical civilization motivated by warfare, the desire to dominate territories and natural resources, a pyramidal society, spectacular ceremonies associated with lineage and ancestors, and complex esoteric religious ideas” (Carrasco pg 55). The Maya took an agricultural worldview to explain the universe. The complex calendar system also helped them to plan ahead and perform the rituals that would keep the earth going. A great religious accomplishment of the Maya was the Long Count calendar. This calendar had pieces from earlier beliefs but the Maya made it more accurate.They also believed that life would flow better if it simulated the mathematically cycles of the heavens. This influenced the world making, world centering and world renewal because they installed rituals and the calendar as a tool to advance as a society. The

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