Saturday, January 14, 2017

What were Olmec ceremonial centers like?

Olmec Centers
The earliest Olmec farmers lived in small communities. By around 1500 B.C. Olmec society had split into classes. About 150 years later the elite, or ruling class, had enough power to order the construction of large building projects. These projects required the labor of many people.

One building project took place at San Lorenzo, the oldest known Olmec city.
There, around 1150 B.C., workers carried baskets of dirt up a large hill. They used the dirt to make a platform more than 20 feet (6 m) high and as long as eight basketball courts placed end to end.

On this platform the Olmecs built an area for religious ceremonies called a ceremonial center. Among the ruins of San Lorenzo, archaeologists have uncovered the remains of stone columns and more than 70 stone monuments. The center also includes the oldest known ball court in Mesoamerica.

Temples and palaces where rulers lived probably also once stood on the ceremonial center. Nothing remains of these buildings today Archaeologists believe that invaders destroyed San Lorenzo around 900 B.C.

Another Olmec center, called La Venta, grew up after San Lorenzo ended. From 800 B.C. to 400 B.C. most Olmec activity took place in this center.

At La Venta, Olmec workers formed an earthen mound 110 feet (34 m) tall. Some archaeologists refer to this mound as the first Mesoamerican pyramid, or the Great Mound. Many of the pyramids the Olmecs built contained hidden tombs. However, archaeologists do not yet know if the Great Mound at La Venta contains a tomb.

What were Olmec ceremonial centers like?

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