1. Olmec – The Olmecs were the first major civilization in Guatemala and Mexico following a progressive development in Soconusco and modern southwestern pacific lowlands of Guatemala. They lived in the present-day states of Veracruz and Tabasco. It has been speculated that Olmec derive from neighboring Mokaya and/or Mixe -- Zoque. The population of the Olmecs flourished during Mesoamerica's formative period, dating roughly to about 400 BCE. They laid many of the foundations for the civilizations that followed. Among other "firsts", the Olmec played the Mesoamerican ballgame, hallmarks of nearly all subsequent Mesoamerican societies. The aspect of the Olmecs most familiar now is their artwork, particularly the aptly named "colossal heads". The Olmec civilization was first defined through artifacts which collectors purchased in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Olmec artworks are considered among ancient America's most striking. The name'Olmec' comes from the Nahuatl word for the Olmecs: Ōlmēcatl or Ōlmēcah. This word is composed of the two words ōlli, mēcatl, meaning "people", so the word means "rubber people". The Olmec heartland is the area in the Gulf lowlands where it expanded in Soconusco. This area is characterized by swampy lowlands punctuated by low hills, volcanoes. The Tuxtlas Mountains rise sharply along the Gulf of Mexico's Bay of Campeche. Here the Olmec constructed city-temple complexes at San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán, La Venta, Tres Zapotes, Laguna de los Cerros.Olmec – Olmec Head No. 3 from San Lorenzo Tenochtitlan 1200–900 BCE
2. Maya civilization – The Maya civilization developed in an area that encompasses the western portions of Honduras and El Salvador. The Archaic period, prior to 2000 BC, saw the first developments in agriculture and the earliest villages. The first Maya cities developed around 750 BC, by 500 BC these cities possessed monumental architecture, including large temples with elaborate stucco façades. Hieroglyphic writing was being used by the 3rd BC. Kaminaljuyu rose in the Guatemalan Highlands. Beginning around 250 AD, the Classic period is largely defined as when the Maya were raising sculpted monuments with Long Count dates. This period saw the Maya civilization develop a large number of city-states linked by a complex trade network. In the Maya Lowlands two great rivals, Tikal and Calakmul, became powerful. The Classic period also saw the intrusive intervention of the Mexican city of Teotihuacan in dynastic politics. The Postclassic period saw the rise of Chichen Itza in the north, the expansion of the aggressive K'iche' kingdom in the Guatemalan Highlands. Classic rule was centred on the concept of the "divine king", who acted as a mediator between the supernatural realm. Kingship was patrilineal, power would normally pass to the eldest son. A prospective king was also expected to be a successful war leader. Maya politics was dominated by a closed system of patronage, although the political make-up of a kingdom varied to city-state. By the Late Classic, the aristocracy had greatly increased, resulting in the corresponding reduction in the exclusive power of the divine king.Maya civilization – El Castillo, at Chichen Itza
3. Maya script – The earliest inscriptions found, which are identifiably Maya, date to the 3rd BCE in San Bartolo, Guatemala. Maya writing was in continuous use until the Spanish conquest of the Maya in the 16th and 17th centuries. Maya writing used logograms complemented by a set of syllabic glyphs, somewhat similar in function to Japanese writing. Modern Mayan languages are written using the Latin alphabet rather than Maya script. There is also some evidence that the script may have been occasionally used to write Mayan languages of the Guatemalan Highlands. However, if other languages were written, they may have been written by Ch’olti’ scribes, therefore have Ch’olti’ elements. The paint has rarely survived. About 90% of Mayan writing can now be read with varying degrees of certainty, enough to give a comprehensive idea of its structure. The Mayan script was a logosyllabic system. Individual glyphs could represent either a syllable; indeed, the same glyph could often be used for both. For example, the calendaric MANIK' was also used to represent the syllable chi. There was polyvalence in the other direction well: different glyphs could be read the same way. For example, half a dozen apparently unrelated glyphs were used to write the very common third person u -. However, in the case of Mayan, each block tended to verb phrase such as his green headband. Also, glyphs were sometimes conflated, where an element of one glyph would replace part of a second.Maya script – Pages 6, 7, and 8 of the Dresden Codex, showing letters numbers and the images that often accompany Maya writing.
4. Mesoamerican writing systems – Mesoamerica, along with Mesopotamia and China, is among the three known places in the world where writing has developed independently. Mesoamerican scripts deciphered to date are a combination of logographic and syllabic values. They are often called hieroglyphs due to the iconic shapes of many of the glyphs, a pattern superficially similar to Egyptian hieroglyphs. The best documented and deciphered Mesoamerican writing system, the most widely known, is the classic Maya script. An extensive Mesoamerican literature has been conserved partly in indigenous scripts and partly in the postconquest transcriptions in the Latin script. Early Olmec ceramics show representations of something that may be codices, suggesting that amatl bark codices, by extension well-developed writing, existed in Olmec times. This suspicion was reinforced in 2002 by the announcement of the discovery of similar glyphs at San Andres. This block was dated based on other debris. If the authenticity and date can be verified, this will prove to be the earliest writing yet found in Mesoamerica. Another candidate for earliest writing system in Mesoamerica is the writing system of the Zapotec culture. Rising in the late Pre-Classic era after the decline of the Olmec civilization, the Zapotecs of present-day Oaxaca built an empire around Monte Alban. On a few monuments at this archaeological site, archaeologists have found extended text in a glyphic script. Some signs can be recognized as calendric information but the script as such remains undeciphered. These are, however, speculations. The earliest known monument with Zapotec writing is a "Danzante" stone, officially known as Monument 3, found in San Jose Mogote, Oaxaca.Mesoamerican writing systems – Monument 3 at San Jose Mogote. The two shaded glyphs between his legs are likely his name, Earthquake 1