How did the Olmecs Suddenly Vanish from History?


Olmecs are supposed to be a Mesoamerican civilisation that dwelled in various parts of Mexico. The Olmecs Civilisation initiated near about 1100 BC. This makes Olmecs oldest civilisation in Mexico. They had a system of writing, though only carved examples survive till date. They had a calendar too. The civilisation was ruled by class. There were people from the working and others that survived from work done by working class people. There was a elite class too. Whether these elite class were the rulers or not is not clear. They may have been the rulers or the religious leaders.

Olmecs Civilisation was the first civilisation in Mexico

Olmecs followed a certain form of religion. So it would make sense to assume that they had religious leaders who dealt with religious matters while the commoners used to associated with war, building and agriculture which fed the Olmecs. Wild animals were the centre to religious practices, particularly jaguar was held in high esteem. Human sacrifice was also a part of their religious customs. May be the Olmecs passed this on to later Mexican civilisation.

Olmecs Stone head

Strongest symbols of Olmec Civilisation was the enormous carved heads that they have left behind. There are many helmeted stone heads which are credited to Olmec art. The face features of these heads are evidences that Olmecs were of African origin. Though there is no evidence that Olmecs were dark skinned but they had features such as native Africans. The art style of these heads can be found in later Mexican civilisations.

Olmecs Calandar

There is no evidence of what happened to the prosperous Olmec Civilisation after 300 BC. What happened to this civilisation is a mystery till date. The remains of people from this civilisation have not survived through time, so there are no bodies to analyse. Excavations have not come up with any evidence of famine, war, disease, natural disaster or relocation, though researchers have postulated each of these as real causes.

Art showing Olmecs worshiping rain

One of the believable thesis claims that change in land’s fertility led to relocation and adaptation of Olmecs. It may be possible that the Olmecs adapted themselves so drastically that they transformed into a later civilisation. Their cities were abandoned for new cities; their religion and art evolved. Other researchers feel the Olmecs disappeared due to a civil war. This might have thinned down the population so much that they disappeared in time. Diseases could also have wiped out the population.

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