8th century BC
The 8th century BC started the first day of 800 BC and ended the last day of 701 BC. The 8th century BC is a period of great change for several significant civilizations. In Egypt, the 23rd and 24th dynasties lead to rule from Nubia in the 25th Dynasty; the Neo-Assyrian Empire reaches the peak of its power, conquering the Kingdom of Israel as well as nearby countries. Greece colonizes other regions of the Mediterranean Black Sea. Rome is founded in 753 BC, the Etruscan civilization expands in Italy; the 8th century BC is conventionally taken as the beginning of Classical Antiquity, with the first Olympiad set at 776 BC, the epics of Homer dated to between 750 and 650 BC. Iron Age India enters the Vedic period. Vedic ritual is annotated in many priestly schools in Brahmana commentaries, the earliest Upanishads mark the beginning of Vedanta philosophy. Late 8th century BC: Earrings and rosettes, from the tomb of Queen Yabay in Kalhu are made, they are now at Baghdad. Discovered in 1988. Second half of the 8th century BC: In the Kingdom of Judah, Jerusalem begins an expansion in population and size, going from a small town into a major city.
797 BC: Thespieus, King of Athens, dies after a reign of 27 years and is succeeded by his son Agamestor. 783 BC: Shalmaneser IV succeeds his father Adad-nirari III as king of Assyria. 782 BC: Founding of Erebuni by the orders of King Argishtis I at the site of current-day Yerevan. 782 BC: Death of King Xuan of Zhou, King of the Zhou Dynasty of China. 781 BC: King You of Zhou becomes King of the Zhou Dynasty of China. 780 BC: The first historic solar eclipse is recorded in China. 778 BC: Agamestor, King of Athens, dies after a reign of 17 years and is succeeded by his son Aeschylus. 776 BC: retrospectively set as the first Olympiad. The history of the Olympic Games is believed to reach as far back as the 13th century BC. 774 BC: End of the reign of king Pygmalion of Tyre. 773 BC: Death of Shoshenq III, king of Egypt. 773 BC: Ashur-Dan III succeeds his brother Shalmaneser IV as king of Assyria. 771 BC: End of the Western Zhou Dynasty in China as "western" barbarian tribes sack the capital Hao. King You of Zhou is killed.
Crown Prince Ji Yijiu will reign as King Ping of Zhou. 770 BC: Beginning of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty in China as King Ping of Zhou becomes the first King of the Zhou to rule from the new capital of Chengzhou. June 15, 763 BC: A solar eclipse at this date is used to fix the chronology of the Ancient Near East. Mid-8th century BC: Model of temple, found in the Sanctuary of Hera, Argos, is made, it is now at Athens. 756 BC: Founding of Cyzicus. 755 BC: Ashur-nirari V succeeds Ashur-Dan III as king of Assyria. 755 BC: Aeschylus, King of Athens, dies after a reign of 23 years and is succeeded by Alcmaeon. 753 BC: Alcmaeon, King of Athens, dies after a reign of 2 years. He is replaced by Harops, elected Archon for a ten-year term. April 21, 753 BC: Rome founded by Romulus. Beginning of the Roman'Ab urbe condita' calendar. February 26, 747 BC: Nabonassar becomes king of Babylon. 747 BC: Meles becomes king of Lydia. 747 BC: The Lusatian culture city at Biskupin is founded. 745 BC: The Crown of Assyria is seized by Pul, who takes the name Tiglath-Pileser III.
743 BC: Duke Zhuang of the Chinese state of Zheng comes to power. 740 BC: Tiglath-Pileser III conquers the city of Arpad in Syria after two years of siege. 740 BC: Start of Ahaz's reign of Judah. 739 BC: Hiram II becomes king of Tyre. 738 BC: King Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria invades Israel, forcing it to pay tribute. 734 BC: Syracuse was founded as a colony by Corinth. 734 BC: Naxus in Sicily founded as a colony of Chalcis in Euboea. 732 BC: Hoshea becomes the last king of Israel. 730 BC: Osorkon IV succeeds Sheshonq IV as king of the Twenty-second dynasty of Egypt. 730 BC: Piye succeeds his father Kashta as king of the Nubian kingdom of Napata. 730 BC: Mattan II succeeds Hiram II as king of Tyre. 728 BC: Piye invades Egypt, conquering Memphis, receives the submission of the rulers of the Nile Delta. He founds the Twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt. 727 BC: Babylonia makes itself independent of Assyria. 724 BC: The Assyrians start a four-year siege of Tyre. 724 BC: The diaulos footrace introduced at the Olympics.
722 BC: Spring and Autumn period of China's history begins as King Ping of Zhou of the Zhou Dynasty reigns in name only. 722 BC: Israel is conquered by Assyrian king Sargon II. 720 BC: End of the Assyrian siege of Tyre. 719 BC: King Huan of Zhou of the Zhou Dynasty becomes ruler of China. 718 BC: Gyges becomes the ruler of Lydia. 717 BC: Assyrian king Sargon conquers the Hittite stronghold of Carchemish. 717 BC: Sargon II founds a new capital for Assyria at Dur-Sharrukin. 716 BC: Roman legend marks this as the date that Romulus ended his rule. 715 BC: Start of the reign of Roman King Numa Pompilius. 713 BC: Numa Pompilius reforms the Roman calendar. 712 BC: Numa Pompilius creates the office of Pontifex Maximus. 706 BC: Spartan immigrants found Taras colony in southern Italy. 705 BC: Sennacherib succeeds Sargon II as king of Assyria. 704 BC: Sennacherib moves the capital of Assyria to Nineveh. 701 BC: King Hezekiah of Judah, backed by Egypt, revolts against king Sennacherib of Assyria. Sennacherib fails in his attempt to take Jerusalem.
700 BC: The Scythians start settling in Cimmerian areas replacing the previous inhabitants. 700 BC: End of the Villanovan culture in northern Italy and rise of the Etruscan civilization. 700 BC: The Upanishads, a sacred text of Hinduism, are written around this time. Greeks colonize Black Seas. Thraco-Cimmerian influence in Central Eu
Shamash-shum-ukin was the Assyrian king of Babylon from 667–648 BC. He was the second son of the Assyrian king Esarhaddon, his elder brother, crown prince Sîn-apla-iddina had died in 672, in his stead the third son Ashurbanipal was invested as crown prince and king of Assyria, while Shamash-shum-ukin remained crown prince of Babylonia. This arrangement caused some dissension, at least one civil servant wrote the King warning against it. Provincial governors and vassals had to take an oath to accept this and to help the brothers gain their respective thrones in the event of Esarhaddon's death; when Esarhaddon unexpectedly died on a campaign against rebellious Egypt in 669, it was only the decisive action of his grandmother Naqi'a-Zakutu, widow of his grandfather Sennacherib and mother of his late father, that got Ashurbanipal on the throne, in the face of opposition by court officials and parts of the priesthood. Shamash-shum-ukin, the older brother, became viceroy of Babylonia; the arrangement was evidently intended to flatter the Babylonians by giving them once more the semblance of independence.
In 668 BC Shamash-shum-ukin brought the statue of Marduk back to Babylon. The following year at the New Year's Day ritual, he took the hand of Bēl and became the legitimate king of Babylon; the Babylonian territory consisted of Babylon, Borsippa and Sippar. As overlord, Ashurbanipal continued to offer royal sacrifices in these cities. While Shamash-shum-ukin was the sovereign ruler of the south in theory, Assyria maintained a garrison in Nippur, some of the provincial governors tried to get into Assyrian favour. Letters by Sin-balassu-iqbi, governor of Ur show how he tried to ingratiate himself with Ashurbanipal. Ashurbanipal retained responsibility for Babylonia's defense and foreign policy. Ashurbanipal took an active part in the restoration of sanctuaries in the south. A stela now in London commemorates his help in restoring the temple Esagila; the Sumerian language was revived as the official tongue. For some time this worked well, however Shamash-shum-ukin became infused with Babylonian nationalism, claimed that it was he rather than his younger brother, the successor of the Mesopotamian monarchs whose empire stretched from Iran to the Mediterranean and from the Caucasus to Arabia and north Africa.
In May 652 BC, Shamash-shum-ukin rose in rebellion. He formed a powerful coalition including Nabu-bel-shumate, king of the Mesopotamian Sealands, the Elamites, the Chaldean tribes of the South, the kings of Guti and the Arabs from Arabia. After two years Babylon and Borsippa were besieged, Elam was defeated and destroyed. Babylon yielded in June 648. A fragment of the annals of Ashurbanipal excavated at Nimrud says that Shamash-shum-ukin was wounded by an arrow. Another account says that he threw himself into his burning palace as Babylon fell to Assyrian troops, to be remembered by the Greeks in the story of Sardanapalus. However, since after his brother's death, Ashurbanipal reviewed Shamash-shum-ukin's property, including vehicles, horses and retainers, J. D. A. MacGinnis regards the account of a grand conflagration as "pure fantasy", his successor on the throne of Babylon was Kandalanu. Kandalanu, may have been either a throne name taken by Ashurbanipal himself or an Assyrian puppet ruler. MacGinnis believes that details of the siege of Babylon were incorporated into Ctesias' account of the siege of Nineveh.
ABC 15: Chronicle Concerning the Reign of Šamaš-šuma-ukin
The Bronze Age is a historical period characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the three-age Stone-Bronze-Iron system, as proposed in modern times by Christian Jürgensen Thomsen, for classifying and studying ancient societies. An ancient civilization is defined to be in the Bronze Age either by producing bronze by smelting its own copper and alloying with tin, arsenic, or other metals, or by trading for bronze from production areas elsewhere. Bronze itself is harder and more durable than other metals available at the time, allowing Bronze Age civilizations to gain a technological advantage. Copper-tin ores are rare, as reflected in the fact that there were no tin bronzes in Western Asia before trading in bronze began in the third millennium BC. Worldwide, the Bronze Age followed the Neolithic period, with the Chalcolithic serving as a transition. Although the Iron Age followed the Bronze Age, in some areas, the Iron Age intruded directly on the Neolithic.
Bronze Age cultures differed in their development of the first writing. According to archaeological evidence, cultures in Mesopotamia and Egypt developed the earliest viable writing systems; the overall period is characterized by widespread use of bronze, though the place and time of the introduction and development of bronze technology were not universally synchronous. Human-made tin bronze technology requires set production techniques. Tin must be mined and smelted separately added to molten copper to make bronze alloy; the Bronze Age was a time of developing trade networks. A 2013 report suggests that the earliest tin-alloy bronze dates to the mid-5th millennium BC in a Vinča culture site in Pločnik, although this culture is not conventionally considered part of the Bronze Age; the dating of the foil has been disputed. Western Asia and the Near East was the first region to enter the Bronze Age, which began with the rise of the Mesopotamian civilization of Sumer in the mid 4th millennium BC.
Cultures in the ancient Near East practiced intensive year-round agriculture, developed a writing system, invented the potter's wheel, created a centralized government, written law codes and nation states and empires, embarked on advanced architectural projects, introduced social stratification and civil administration and practiced organized warfare and religion. Societies in the region laid the foundations for astronomy and astrology. Dates are approximate, consult particular article for details The Ancient Near East Bronze Age can be divided as following: The Hittite Empire was established in Hattusa in northern Anatolia from the 18th century BC. In the 14th century BC, the Hittite Kingdom was at its height, encompassing central Anatolia, southwestern Syria as far as Ugarit, upper Mesopotamia. After 1180 BC, amid general turmoil in the Levant conjectured to have been associated with the sudden arrival of the Sea Peoples, the kingdom disintegrated into several independent "Neo-Hittite" city-states, some of which survived until as late as the 8th century BC.
Arzawa in Western Anatolia during the second half of the second millennium BC extended along southern Anatolia in a belt that reaches from near the Turkish Lakes Region to the Aegean coast. Arzawa was the western neighbor – sometimes a rival and sometimes a vassal – of the Middle and New Hittite Kingdoms; the Assuwa league was a confederation of states in western Anatolia, defeated by the Hittites under an earlier Tudhaliya I, around 1400 BC. Arzawa has been associated with the much more obscure Assuwa located to its north, it bordered it, may be an alternative term for it. In Ancient Egypt the Bronze Age begins in the Protodynastic period, c. 3150 BC. The archaic early Bronze Age of Egypt, known as the Early Dynastic Period of Egypt follows the unification of Lower and Upper Egypt, c. 3100 BC. It is taken to include the First and Second Dynasties, lasting from the Protodynastic Period of Egypt until about 2686 BC, or the beginning of the Old Kingdom. With the First Dynasty, the capital moved from Abydos to Memphis with a unified Egypt ruled by an Egyptian god-king.
Abydos remained the major holy land in the south. The hallmarks of ancient Egyptian civilization, such as art and many aspects of religion, took shape during the Early Dynastic period. Memphis in the Early Bronze Age was the largest city of the time; the Old Kingdom of the regional Bronze Age is the name given to the period in the 3rd millennium BC when Egypt attained its first continuous peak of civilization in complexity and achievement – the first of three "Kingdom" periods, which mark the high points of civilization in the lower Nile Valley. The First Intermediate Period of Egypt described as a "dark period" in ancient Egyptian history, spanned about 100 years after the end of the Old Kingdom from about 2181 to 2055 BC. Little monumental evidence survives from this period from the early part of it; the First Intermediate Period was a dynamic time when the rule of Egypt was divided between two competing power bases: Heracleopolis in Lower Egypt and Thebes in Upper Egypt. These two kingdoms would come into conflict, with the Theban kings conquering the north, resulting in the reunification of Egypt under a single ruler during the second part of the 11th Dynasty.
The Middle Kingdom of Egypt laste
Rhodes is the largest of the Dodecanese islands of Greece and is the island group's historical capital. Administratively the island forms a separate municipality within the Rhodes regional unit, part of the South Aegean administrative region; the principal town of the island and seat of the municipality is Rhodes. The city of Rhodes had 50,636 inhabitants in 2011, it is located northeast of southeast of Athens and just off the Anatolian coast of Turkey. Rhodes' nickname is The island of the Knights, named after the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem, who once conquered the land. Rhodes was famous worldwide for the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World; the Medieval Old Town of the City of Rhodes has been declared a World Heritage Site. Today, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe; the name of the U. S. state of Rhode Island is thought to be based on this island. The island has been known as Ρόδος in Greek throughout its history. In addition, the island has been called Rodi in Italian, Rodos in Turkish, Rodi or Rodes in Ladino.
The Travels of Sir John Mandeville incorrectly reports that Rhodes was called "Collosus", through a conflation of the Colossus of Rhodes and Paul's Epistle to the Colossians, which refers to Colossae. The island's name might be derived from erod, Phoenician for snake, since the island was infested with snakes in antiquity; the island of Rhodes is shaped like a spearhead, 79.7 km long and 38 km wide, with a total area of 1,400 square kilometres and a coastline of 220 km. Limestone is the main bedrock; the city of Rhodes is located at the northern tip of the island, as well as the site of the ancient and modern commercial harbours. The main air gateway is located 14 km to the southwest of the city in Paradisi; the road network radiates from the city along the west coasts. Outside of the city of Rhodes, the island is dotted with small villages and spa resorts, among them Faliraki, Kremasti, Pefkos, Afantou, Koskinou, Embona and Trianta. There are mineral-rich spring water used to give medicinal baths and the spa resorts offer various health treatments.
Rhodes is situated 363 km east-south-east from the Greek mainland, 18 km from the southern shore of Turkey. The interior of the island is mountainous, sparsely inhabited and covered with forests of pine and cypress. While the shores are rocky, the island has arable strips of land where citrus fruit, wine grapes, vegetables and other crops are grown; the Rhodian population of fallow deer was found to be genetically distinct in 2005, to be of urgent conservation concern. In Petaloudes Valley, large numbers of tiger moths gather during the summer months. Mount Attavyros, at 1,216 metres, is the island's highest point of elevation. Earthquakes include the 226 BC earthquake. On 15 July 2008, Rhodes was struck by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake causing minor damage to a few old buildings and one death. Rhodes has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate; the island was inhabited in the Neolithic period. In the 16th century BC, the Minoans came to Rhodes. Greek mythology recalled a Rhodian race called the Telchines and associated the island of Rhodes with Danaus.
In the 15th century BC, Mycenaean Greeks invaded. After the Bronze Age collapse, the first renewed outside contacts were with Cyprus. Homer mentions. In the 8th century BC, the island's settlements started to form, with the coming of the Dorians, who built the three important cities of Lindos and Kameiros, which together with Kos and Halicarnassus made up the so-called Dorian Hexapolis. In Pindar's ode, the island was said to be born of the union of Helios the sun god and the nymph Rhodos, the cities were named for their three sons; the rhoda is a pink hibiscus, native to the island. Diodorus Siculus added that one of the sons of Helios and Rhode, travelled to Egypt, he taught the Egyptians astrology. In the second half of the 8th century, the sanctuary of Athena received votive gifts that are markers for cultural contacts: small ivories from the Near East and bronze objects from Syria. At Kameiros on the northwest coast, a former Bronze Age site, where the temple was founded in the 8th century, there is another notable contemporaneous sequence of carved ivory figurines.
The cemeteries of Kameiros and Ialyssos yielded several exquisite exemplars of the Orientalizing Rhodian jewellery, dated in the 7th and early 6th centuries BC. Phoenician presence on the island at Ialysos is attested in traditions recorded much by Rhodian historians; the Persians invaded and overran the island, but they were in turn defeated by forces from Athens in 478 BC. The Rhodian cities joined the Athenian League; when the Peloponnesian War broke out in 431 BC, Rhodes remained neutral, although it remained a member of the League. The war lasted until 404 BC, but by this time Rhodes had withdrawn from the conflict and decided to go her own way. In 408 BC, the cities united to form one territory, they built the city of a new capital on the northern end of the island. Its regular plan w
Writing is a medium of human communication that represents language and emotion with signs and symbols. In most languages, writing is a spoken language. Writing is not a language. Within a language system, writing relies on many of the same structures as speech, such as vocabulary and semantics, with the added dependency of a system of signs or symbols; the result of writing is called text, the recipient of text is called a reader. Motivations for writing include publication, correspondence, record keeping and diary. Writing has been instrumental in keeping history, maintaining culture, dissemination of knowledge through the media and the formation of legal systems; as human societies emerged, the development of writing was driven by pragmatic exigencies such as exchanging information, maintaining financial accounts, codifying laws and recording history. Around the 4th millennium BC, the complexity of trade and administration in Mesopotamia outgrew human memory, writing became a more dependable method of recording and presenting transactions in a permanent form.
In both ancient Egypt and Mesoamerica, writing may have evolved through calendric and a political necessity for recording historical and environmental events. H. G. Wells argued that writing has the ability to "put agreements, commandments on record, it made the growth of states larger. It made a continuous historical consciousness possible; the command of the priest or king and his seal could go far beyond his sight and voice and could survive his death". The major writing systems—methods of inscription—broadly fall into five categories: logographic, alphabetic and ideographic. A sixth category, pictographic, is insufficient to represent language on its own, but forms the core of logographies. A logogram is a written character which represents a morpheme. A vast number of logograms are needed to write Chinese characters and Mayan, where a glyph may stand for a morpheme, a syllable, or both—. Many logograms have an ideographic component. For example, in Mayan, the glyph for "fin", pronounced "ka", was used to represent the syllable "ka" whenever the pronunciation of a logogram needed to be indicated, or when there was no logogram.
In Chinese, about 90% of characters are compounds of a semantic element called a radical with an existing character to indicate the pronunciation, called a phonetic. However, such phonetic elements complement the logographic elements, rather than vice versa; the main logographic system in use today is Chinese characters, used with some modification for the various languages or dialects of China and sometimes in Korean despite the fact that in South and North Korea, the phonetic Hangul system is used. A syllabary is a set of written symbols. A glyph in a syllabary represents a consonant followed by a vowel, or just a vowel alone, though in some scripts more complex syllables may have dedicated glyphs. Phonetically related syllables are not so indicated in the script. For instance, the syllable "ka" may look nothing like the syllable "ki", nor will syllables with the same vowels be similar. Syllabaries are best suited to languages with a simple syllable structure, such as Japanese. Other languages that use syllabic writing include the Linear B script for Mycenaean Greek.
Most logographic systems have a strong syllabic component. Ethiopic, though technically an abugida, has fused consonants and vowels together to the point where it is learned as if it were a syllabary. An alphabet is a set of symbols, each of which represents or represented a phoneme of the language. In a phonological alphabet, the phonemes and letters would correspond in two directions: a writer could predict the spelling of a word given its pronunciation, a speaker could predict the pronunciation of a word given its spelling; as languages evolve independently of their writing systems, writing systems have been borrowed for languages they were not designed for, the degree to which letters of an alphabet correspond to phonemes of a language varies from one language to another and within a single language. In most of the writing systems of the Middle East, it is only the consonants of a word that are written, although vowels may be indicated by the addition of various diacritical marks. Writing systems based on marking the consonant phonemes alone date back to the hieroglyphs of ancient Egypt.
Such systems are called abjads, derived from the Arabic word for "alphabet". In most of the alphabets of India and Southeast Asia, vowels are indicated through diacritics or modification of the shape of the consonant; these are called abugidas. Some abugidas, such as Ethiopic and Cree, are learned by children as syllabaries, so are called "syllabics". However, unlike true syllabaries, there is not an independent glyph for each syllable. Sometimes the term "alphabet" is restricted to systems with separate letters for consonants and vowels, such as the Latin alphabet, although abugidas and abjads may be accepted as alphabets; because of this use, Greek is considered to be the first alphabet. A featural script notates the building blocks of the phonemes. For instance, all sounds pronounced. In the Latin alphabet, this is acciden
The Olmecs were the earliest known major civilization in Mesoamerica following a progressive development in Soconusco. They lived in the tropical lowlands of south-central Mexico, in the present-day states of Veracruz and Tabasco, it has been speculated that the Olmecs derive in part from neighboring Mixe -- Zoque. The Olmecs flourished during Mesoamerica's formative period, dating from as early as 1500 BCE to about 400 BCE. Pre-Olmec cultures had flourished in the area since about 2500 BCE, but by 1600–1500 BCE, early Olmec culture had emerged, centered on the San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán site near the coast in southeast Veracruz, they were the first Mesoamerican civilization, laid many of the foundations for the civilizations that followed. Among other "firsts", the Olmec appeared to practice ritual bloodletting and played the Mesoamerican ballgame, hallmarks of nearly all subsequent Mesoamerican societies; the aspect of the Olmecs most familiar now is their artwork the aptly named "colossal heads".
The Olmec civilization was first defined through artifacts which collectors purchased on the pre-Columbian art market 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: Ōlmēcah. This word is composed of the two words ōlli, meaning "rubber", mēcatl, meaning "people", so the word means "rubber people"; the Olmec heartland is the area in the Gulf lowlands where it expanded after early development in Soconusco, Veracruz. This area is characterized by swampy lowlands punctuated by low hills and volcanoes; the Tuxtlas Mountains rise in the north, along the Gulf of Mexico's Bay of Campeche. Here, the Olmec constructed permanent city-temple complexes at San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán, La Venta, Tres Zapotes, Laguna de los Cerros. In this region, the first Mesoamerican civilization emerged and reigned from c. 1400–400 BCE. The beginnings of Olmec civilization have traditionally been placed between 1400 and 1200 BCE.
Past finds of Olmec remains ritually deposited at El Manati shrine moved this back to "at least" 1600–1500 BCE. It seems that the Olmec had their roots in early farming cultures of Tabasco, which began between 5100 BCE and 4600 BCE; these shared the same basic food crops and technologies of the Olmec civilization. What is today called Olmec first appeared within the city of San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán, where distinctive Olmec features occurred around 1400 BCE; the rise of civilization was assisted by the local ecology of well-watered alluvial soil, as well as by the transportation network provided by the Coatzacoalcos River basin. This environment may be compared to that of other ancient centers of civilization: the Nile and Yellow River valleys, Mesopotamia; this productive environment encouraged a densely concentrated population, which in turn triggered the rise of an elite class. The elite class created the demand for the production of the symbolic and sophisticated luxury artifacts that define Olmec culture.
Many of these luxury artifacts were made from materials such as jade and magnetite, which came from distant locations and suggest that early Olmec elites had access to an extensive trading network in Mesoamerica. The source of the most valued jade was the Motagua River valley in eastern Guatemala, Olmec obsidian has been traced to sources in the Guatemala highlands, such as El Chayal and San Martín Jilotepeque, or in Puebla, distances ranging from 200 to 400 km away, respectively; the state of Guerrero, in particular its early Mezcala culture, seem to have played an important role in the early history of Olmec culture. Olmec-style artifacts tend to appear earlier in some parts of Guerrero than in the Veracruz-Tabasco area. In particular, the relevant objects from the Amuco-Abelino site in Guerrero reveal dates as early as 1530 BCE; the city of Teopantecuanitlan in Guerrero is relevant in this regard. The first Olmec center, San Lorenzo, was all but abandoned around 900 BCE at about the same time that La Venta rose to prominence.
A wholesale destruction of many San Lorenzo monuments occurred circa 950 BCE, which may indicate an internal uprising or, less an invasion. The latest thinking, however, is that environmental changes may have been responsible for this shift in Olmec centers, with certain important rivers changing course. In any case, following the decline of San Lorenzo, La Venta became the most prominent Olmec center, lasting from 900 BCE until its abandonment around 400 BCE. La Venta sustained the Olmec cultural traditions with spectacular displays of power and wealth; the Great Pyramid was the largest Mesoamerican structure of its time. Today, after 2500 years of erosion, it rises 34 m above the flat landscape. Buried deep within La Venta lay opulent, labor-intensive "offerings" – 1000 tons of smooth serpentine blocks, large mosaic pavements, at least 48 separate deposits of polished jade celts, pottery and hematite mirrors. Scholars have yet to determine the cause of the eventual extinction of the Olmec culture.
Between 400 and 350 BCE, the population in the eastern half of the Olmec heartland dropped precipitously, the area was sparsely inhabited until the 19th century. According to archaeologists, this depopulation was the result of "very serious environmental changes that rendered the region unsuited for large groups of farmers", in particular changes to the riverine environment that the Olmec depended upon for agriculture and gathering, transportation; these changes may have been triggered by tectonic upheavals or subsidence, or the silting up of ri