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
An archaeological site is a place in which evidence of past activity is preserved, which has been, or may be, investigated using the discipline of archaeology and represents a part of the archaeological record. Sites may range from those with few or no remains visible above ground, to buildings and other structures still in use. Beyond this, the definition and geographical extent of a "site" can vary depending on the period studied and the theoretical approach of the archaeologist, it is invariably difficult to delimit a site. It is sometimes taken to indicate a settlement of some sort although the archaeologist must define the limits of human activity around the settlement. Any episode of deposition such as a hoard or burial can form a site as well. Development-led archaeology undertaken as cultural resources management has the disadvantage of having its sites defined by the limits of the intended development. In this case however, in describing and interpreting the site, the archaeologist will have to look outside the boundaries of the building site.
According to Jess Beck in "How Do Archaeologists find sites?" the areas with a large number of artifacts are good targets for future excavation, while areas with small number of artifacts are thought to reflect a lack of past human activity.” Many areas have been discovered by accident. The most common person to have found artifacts are farmers who are plowing their fields or just cleaning them up find archaeological artifacts. Many people who are out hiking and pilots find artifacts they end up reporting them to archaeologist to do further investigation; when they find sites, they have to first record the area and if they have the money and time for the site they can start digging. There are many ways to find sites, one example can be through surveys. Surveys involve walking around analyzing the land looking for artifacts, it can involve digging, according to the Archaeological Institute of America, “archaeologists search areas that were to support human populations, or in places where old documents and records indicate people once lived.”
This helps archaeologists in the future. In case there was no time, or money during the finding of the site, archaeologists can come back and visit the site for further digging to find out the extent of the site. Archaeologist can sample randomly within a given area of land as another form of conducting surveys. Surveys are useful, according to Jess Beck, “it can tell you where people were living at different points in the past.” Geophysics is a branch of survey becoming more and more popular in archaeology, because it uses different types of instruments to investigate features below the ground surface. It is not as reliable, because although they can see what is under the surface of the ground it does not produce the best picture. Archaeologists have to still dig up the area in order to uncover the truth. There are two most common types of geophysical survey, which is, magnetometer and ground penetrating radar. Magnetometry is the technique of mapping patterns of magnetism in the soil, it uses an instrument called a magnetometer, required to measure and map traces of soil magnetism.
The ground penetrating radar is a method. It uses electro magnetic radiation in the microwave band of the radio spectrum, detects the reflected signals from subsurface structures. There are many other tools that can be used to find artifacts, but along with finding artifacts, archaeologist have to make maps, they do so by taking data from surveys, or archival research and plugging it into a Geographical Information Systems and that will contain both locational information and a combination of various information. This tool is helpful to archaeologists who want to explore in a different area and want to see if anyone else has done research, they can use this tool to see what has been discovered. With this information available, archaeologists can expand their research and add more to what has been found. Traditionally, sites are distinguished by the presence of both features. Common features include the remains of houses. Ecofacts, biological materials that are the result of human activity but are not deliberately modified, are common at many archaeological sites.
In the cases of the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic eras, a mere scatter of flint flakes will constitute a site worthy of study. Different archaeologists may see an ancient town, its nearby cemetery as being two different sites, or as being part of the same wider site; the precepts of landscape archaeology attempt to see each discrete unit of human activity in the context of the wider environment, further distorting the concept of the site as a demarcated area. Furthermore, geoarchaeologists or environmental archaeologists would consider a sequence of natural geological or organic deposition, in the absence of human activity, to constitute a site worthy of study. Archaeological sites form through human-related processes but can be subject to natural, post-depositional factors. Cultural remnants which have been buried by sediments are in many environments more to be preserved than exposed cultural remnants. Natural actions resulting in sediment being deposited include aeolian natural processes. In jungles and other areas of lush plant growth, decomposed vegetative sediment can result in layers of soil deposited over remains.
Colluviation, the burial of a site by sediments moved by gravity can happen at sites on slopes. Human a
Las Bocas, Sonora
Las Bocas is a small fishing village located in the south of the Mexican state of Sonora. It is part of the Huatabampo municipality. Despite being part of Huatabampo, most properties there are owned by families from Navojoa who have their second house next to the beach. Las Bocas is a popular weekend and holiday destination for people from the south of Sonora and north of Sinaloa, it is specially visited during the Holy Week, the week before Easter. There are two main beaches in Las Bocas: Playa Sur. Other beaches around Las Bocas area include Camahuiroa to the south, Tohahui and Bachoco to the north. There is a small hotel located near the Plaza at Playa Norte. Many houses are available for rental. There are several small grocery stores. There are no gas stations in Las Bocas but gas is delivered and sold by local residents. During Holy Week there are several places to eat local Mexican food and sea food, but other kinds of restaurants are not available; the town is 15 km from Mexican Federal Highway 15 via a paved state road.
Playa Sur has its main boulevard paved. This highway connects to neighbor beaches Tohaui and Bachoco, to the port of Yavaros; the nearest commercial airport is Ciudad Obregón International Airport 100 km away
Puebla the Free and Sovereign State of Puebla is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 217 municipalities and its capital is the city of Puebla, it is located in East-Central Mexico. It is bordered by the states of Veracruz to the north and east, Hidalgo, México and Morelos to the west, Guerrero and Oaxaca to the south; the origins of the state lie in the city of Puebla, founded by the Spanish in this valley in 1531 to secure the trade route between Mexico City and the port of Veracruz. By the end of the 18th century, the area had become a colonial province with its own governor, which would become the State of Puebla, after the Mexican War of Independence in the early 19th century. Since that time the area around the capital city, has continued to grow economically through industry, despite being the scene of a number of battles, the most notable of which being the Battle of Puebla. Today, the state is one of the most industrialized in the country, but since most of its development is concentrated in Puebla and other cities, many of its rural areas are poor, forcing many to migrate away to places such as Mexico City and the United States.
Culturally, the state is home to the China Poblana, mole poblano, active literary and arts scenes and festivals such as Cinco de Mayo, Ritual of Quetzalcoatl, Day of the Dead celebrations and Carnival. It is home to five major indigenous groups: Nahuas, the Totonacs, the Mixtecs, the Popolocas and the Otomi, which can be found in the far north and the far south of the state; the state is in the central highlands of Mexico between the Sierra Nevada and the Sierra Madre Oriental. It has a triangular shape with its narrow part to the north, it borders the states of Veracruz, Guerrero, State of Mexico and Hidalgo. The state occupies 33,919 km2, ranking 20th of 31 states in size, has 4,930 named communities. Most of its mountains belong to the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt; the first is locally called the Sierra Norte del Puebla, entering the state from the northwest and breaks up into the smaller chains of Sierra de Zacapoaxtla, Sierra de Huauchinango, Sierra de Teziutlán, Sierra de Tetela de Ocampo, Sierra de Chignahuapan and Sierra de Zacatlán, although these names may vary among localities.
Some of the highest elevations include Apulco, Chignahuapan and Tlatlaquitepec. The highest elevations are the volcanoes Pico de Orizaba or Citlaltepetl, Popocatépetl, Iztaccíhuatl and Malinche which are found on the state's borders with Veracruz, Mexico State and Tlaxcala respectively. In the south of the state, the major elevations are the Sierra de Atenahuacán, Zapotitlán, Lomerio al Suroeste and the Sierra de Tehuacán. Dividing much of the state from Veracruz is a small chain of mountains called the Sierra Madre del Golfo; the natural geography of the state subdivides into the Huasteco Plateau, Llanuras y Lomeríos zone, Lagos y Volcanes del Anáhuac, Llanuras y Sierras de Querétaro e Hidalgo, Cordillera Costera del Sur, Mixteca Alta, Sierras y Valles Guerrenses, Sierras Centrales de Oaxaca, Sierras Orientales and Sur de Puebla. The Huasteco Plateau and the Llanuras y Lomeríos zone are located in the north and northeast, with the Lagos y Volcanes del Anáhuc in the center and north. Together, they account for over 50% of the state.
The east and northeast are occupies by the Chiconquiaco and Llanudras y Sierras de Querétaro e Hidalgo areas and account for about three percent of the state. The Cordillera del Sur and Mixteca Alta are located in the west and southwest covering less than 2.5% of the state. The Sur de Puebla is in the southwest and accounts for 26% of the state. Other southern subregions include the Sierras y Valles Guerrerenses, the Sierras Centrales de Oaxaca and the Sierras Orientales. Together, they account for about 15% of the state; the hydrology of Puebla is formed by three major river systems. One is based on the Atoyac River, which originates with the melting runoff of the Halos, Telapón and Papagayo mountains along with those from the Iztaccihuatl volcano and waters from the Zahuapan River, which enters from Tlaxcala; this river receives further water from tributaries such as the Acateno, Amacuzac and Cohetzala. The river has one major dam called Manuel Avila Camacho; this river flows west to the Pacific Ocean.
The next system empties into the Gulf of Mexico and consists of the Pantepec, Necaxa, San Pedro/Zun, Apulco, Cedro Viejo, Martínez de la Torre and other rivers on the east side of the state. This system has two major dams called the Mazatepec; the third is based on the large number of small lakes fresh water springs as well as some volcanically heated springs. The best known of these include Chignahuapan, Agua Azúl, Cisnaqullas, Garcicrespo and Rancho Colorado. Lakes include Chapulco, San Bernardino, Lagunas Epatlán, Almoloyan, Pahuatlán, Las Minas and Tecuitlapa. Puebla has many different climates owing to its range of altitudes, it has an average temperature of 16 °C but this varies locally. There is a rainy season from May until October with an overall precipitation of 801 mm; the state has eleven different climate zones. The centre and south of the state has a temperate and semi-moist climate, with an average temperature of 15 °C and 858 mm of rainfall; the southwest has a warm to hot and semi-mois
Obsidian is a occurring volcanic glass formed as an extrusive igneous rock. Obsidian is produced when felsic lava extruded from a volcano cools with minimal crystal growth, it is found within the margins of rhyolitic lava flows known as obsidian flows, where the chemical composition causes a high viscosity which, upon rapid cooling, forms a natural glass from the lava. The inhibition of atomic diffusion through this viscous lava explains the lack of crystal growth. Obsidian is hard and amorphous. In the past it was used to manufacture cutting and piercing tools and it has been used experimentally as surgical scalpel blades.... among the various forms of glass we may reckon Obsidian glass, a substance similar to the stone found by Obsidius in Ethiopia. The translation into English of Natural History written by Pliny the Elder of Rome shows a few sentences on the subject of a volcanic glass called obsidian, discovered in Ethiopia by Obsidius, a Roman explorer. Obsidian is the rock formed as a result of cooled lava, the parent material.
Extrusive formation of obsidian may occur when felsic lava cools at the edges of a felsic lava flow or volcanic dome or when lava cools during sudden contact with water or air. Intrusive formation of obsidian may occur. Tektites were once thought by many to be obsidian produced by lunar volcanic eruptions, though few scientists now adhere to this hypothesis. Obsidian is mineral-like, but not a true mineral, it is sometimes classified as a mineraloid. Though obsidian is dark in color, similar to mafic rocks such as basalt, obsidian's composition is felsic. Obsidian consists of SiO2 70% or more. Crystalline rocks with obsidian's composition include rhyolite; because obsidian is metastable at the Earth's surface, no obsidian has been found, older than Cretaceous age. This breakdown of obsidian is accelerated by the presence of water. Having a low water content when newly formed less than 1% water by weight, obsidian becomes progressively hydrated when exposed to groundwater, forming perlite. Pure obsidian is dark in appearance, though the color varies depending on the presence of impurities.
Iron and other transition elements may give the obsidian a dark brown to black color. Few samples are nearly colorless. In some stones, the inclusion of small, radially clustered crystals spherulites of the mineral cristobalite in the black glass produce a blotchy or snowflake pattern. Obsidian may contain patterns of gas bubbles remaining from the lava flow, aligned along layers created as the molten rock was flowing before being cooled; these bubbles can produce interesting effects such as a golden sheen. An iridescent, rainbow-like sheen is caused by inclusions of magnetite nanoparticles. Obsidian can be found in locations, it can be found in Argentina, Azerbaijan, Canada, Georgia, Greece, El Salvador, Iceland, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Scotland and the United States. Obsidian flows which may be hiked on are found within the calderas of Newberry Volcano and Medicine Lake Volcano in the Cascade Range of western North America, at Inyo Craters east of the Sierra Nevada in California.
Yellowstone National Park has a mountainside containing obsidian located between Mammoth Hot Springs and the Norris Geyser Basin, deposits can be found in many other western U. S. states including Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Washington and Idaho. Obsidian can be found in the eastern U. S. states of Virginia, as well as North Carolina. There are only four major deposit areas in the central Mediterranean: Lipari, Pantelleria and Monte Arci. Ancient sources in the Aegean were Gyali. Acıgöl town and the Göllü Dağ volcano were the most important sources in central Anatolia, one of the more important source areas in the prehistoric Near East; the first known archaeological evidence of usage was in Kariandusi and other sites of the Acheulian age dated 700,000 BC, although the number of objects found at these sites were low relative to the Neolithic. Use of obsidian in pottery of the Neolithic in the area around Lipari was found to be less at a distance representing two weeks journeying. Anatolian sources of obsidian are known to have been the material used in the Levant and modern-day Iraqi Kurdistan from a time beginning sometime about 12,500 BC.
The first attested civilized use is dated to the late fifth millennium BC, known from excavations at Tell Brak. Obsidian was valued in Stone Age cultures because, like flint, it could be fractured to produce sharp blades or arrowheads. Like all glass and some other types of occurring rocks, obsidian breaks with a characteristic conchoidal fracture, it was polished to create early mirrors. Modern archaeologists have developed a relative dating system, obsidian hydration dating, to calculate the age of obsidian artifacts. In the Ubaid in the 5th millennium BC, blades were manufactured from obsidian extracted from outcrops located in modern-day Turkey. Ancient Egyptians used obsidian imported from the eastern Mediterranean and southern Red Sea regions. Obsidian was used in ritual circumcisions because of its deftness and sharpness. In the eastern Mediterranean
This article on the Olmec figurine describes a number of archetypical figurines produced by the Formative Period inhabitants of Mesoamerica. While many of these figurines may or may not have been produced directly by the people of the Olmec heartland, they bear the hallmarks and motifs of Olmec culture. While the extent of Olmec control over the areas beyond their heartland is not yet known, Formative Period figurines with Olmec motifs were widespread in the centuries from 1000 to 500 BCE, showing a consistency of style and subject throughout nearly all of Mesoamerica; these figurines are found in household refuse, in ancient construction fill, in graves, although many Olmec-style figurines those labelled as Las Bocas- or Xochipala-style, were recovered by looters and are therefore without provenance. The vast majority of figurines are simple in design nude or with a minimum of clothing, made of local terracotta. Most of these recoveries are mere fragments: a head, torso, or a leg, it is thought, based on wooden busts recovered from the water-logged El Manati site, that figurines were carved from wood, but, if so, none have survived.
More durable and better known by the general public are those figurines carved with a degree of skill, from jade, greenstone and other minerals and stones. The "baby-face" figurine is a unique marker of Olmec culture found in sites that show Olmec influence, although they seem to be confined to the early Olmec period and are absent, for example, in La Venta; these ceramic figurines are recognized by the chubby body, the baby-like jowly face, downturned mouth, the puffy slit-like eyes. The head is pear-shaped due to artificial cranial deformation, they wear a tight-fitting helmet not dissimilar to those worn by the Olmec colossal heads. Baby-face figurines are naked, but without genitalia, their bodies are rendered with the detail shown on their faces. Called "hollow babies", these figurines are from 25–35 cm high and feature a burnished white- or cream-slip, they are only found in archaeological context. Archaeologist Jeffrey Blomster divides baby-face figurines into two groups based on several features.
Among the many distinguishing factors, Group 1 figurines more mirror the characteristics of Gulf Coast Olmec artifacts. Group 2 figurines are slimmer than those of Group 1, lacking the jowly face or fleshy body, their bodies are larger in proportion to their heads. Given the sheer numbers of baby-face figurines unearthed, they undoubtedly fulfilled some special role in the Olmec culture. What they represented, however, is not known. Michael Coe, says "One of the great enigmas in Olmec iconography is the nature and meaning of the large, whiteware babies". Another common figurine style features standing figurines in a stiff artificial pose and characterized by their thin limbs, bald, flat-topped heads, almond-shaped eyes, downturned mouths; the figurines' legs are separated straight, sometimes bent. Toes and fingers, if shown at all, are represented by lines, it has been theorized that the elongated, flat-topped heads are reflective of the practice of artificial cranial deformation, as found in the Tlatilco burials of the same period or among the Maya of a era.
No direct evidence of this practice has been found in the Olmec heartland, however. The ears have small holes for ear flares or other ornaments; these figurines may have therefore once worn earrings and clothes made of perishable materials. It has been proposed that these figurines had multiple outfits for different ritual occasions – as Richard Diehl puts it, "a pre-Columbian version of Barbie's Ken"; these figurines are carved from jade and well under 1 ft in height. For another example, see this Commons photo. At the La Venta archaeological site, archaeologists found what they subsequently named "Offering 4"; these figurines had been ritually buried in a deep, narrow hole, covered over with three layers of colored clay. At some point after the original burial, someone dug a small hole down just to the level of their heads and refilled it. Offering 4 consists of sixteen male figurines positioned in a semicircle in front of six jade celts representing stelae or basalt columns. Two of the figurines were made from jade, thirteen from serpentine, one of reddish granite.
This granite figurine one was positioned with its back to the celts. All of the figurines had similar classic Olmec features including bald elongated heads, they had small holes for earrings, their legs were bent, they were undecorated – unusual if the figurines were gods or deities – but instead covered with cinnabar. Interpretations abound; this particular formation represents a council of some sort—the fifteen other figurines seem to be listening to the red granite one, with the celts forming a backdrop. One of the most striking offerings found at La Venta, the celts in Offering Number 4, depict a person with a ceremonial headdress “flying” and the maize deity. There appears to be a definite symbolic link here, but it is unclear whether it is tied to the Olmec rudimentary writing system. To the red granite figurine's right, there seems be a line of three figurines filing past him. Another researcher has suggested; as the name implies, Offering 4 is one of many ritual offerings uncovered at La Venta, including the four Massive Offerings and four mosaics.
Why such works would be buried continues to generate much speculation. The so-called were-jaguar motif runs through much of Olmec art, from the smallest jade to some of