3. OLMECA

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Estimated Foundation Year: 3000 BC

Location of the Olmec territory: The Olmec presence is certified in Mexico (Gulf coast, Pacific coast and central highlands), mainly in the coastal zone of the Gulf of Mexico between the Papaloapan and Grijalva rivers, but also in places like Chalcatzingo (Morelos) , Teopantecuanitlán (Guerrero).

Key Olmec Books: The Olmecs may have been the first civilization in the Western Hemisphere to develop a writing system. Symbols discovered in 2002 and 2006 were dated to 650 BC. C. and 900 a. C. respectively, that is, prior to the first Zapotec scriptures (Zapotec culture) dating from 500 BC. C.

The 2002 discovery at the archaeological site, San Andres de Tabasco, shows a bird, glyphs similar to later Mayan hieroglyphs.

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Main deities of the Olmecs:

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The magical side always managed to get involved in the different representations of the Olmec gods, which is why within this culture some definitely fantastic events were taken as absolute realities. Regarding the physical aspect of their divinities, it is a constant that their bodies are half animal half man and that the head, in addition to being very flat, reveals some kind of cleft.

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More than with the priests and shamans themselves, it was assumed that the gods communicated directly with the governors, so this was the reason why these characters were given such priority within this society.

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Certainly the natural elements are still something persevering for the constitution of the stories where these gods participate, it is there that they are described as almost monstrous figures that thanks to their inexhaustible powers emerge victorious from any situation.

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Although sometimes the kings or governors themselves were taken as gods, archeology has been in charge of establishing that the giant heads that were believed to represent the gods of the sky were, so to speak, the portraits of their earthly guides.

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The main deities of the Olmecs:

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Description of the Olmec religion.

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The mythological religion of the Olmec people of Mesoamerica significantly influenced social development and worldview. The Olmec culture is often considered a "mother culture" for later Mesoamerican cultures.

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The Olmecs even considered everything that surrounded them as living beings from caves, ravines, springs, trees and mountains, these were full of spirits too important for the Olmecs. The mountains for the Olmecs are the link between the sky with the earth and the underworld and they were also the place where the ancestors and the spirits of the earth, the rain and the underworld are.

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Their religion developed all the important themes found in later cults. They had a polytheistic religion, a large number of their gods were related to agriculture and other elements such as the sun, water, volcanoes, etc. There is no surviving direct reference to religious beliefs of the Olmecs, unlike the Mayans, with their Popol Vuh , or the Mexica, with their many codices and chronicles of the conquerors.

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Reference:

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https://www.ecured.cu/Olmeca_(etnia)#Writing

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https://www.ecured.cu/Olmeca_(etnia)#Religi.C3.B3n

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