Mesoamerica

Olmec

The Olmecs flourished on the Gulf Coast, creating works in stone and jade that had a profound influence on later cultures.

c. 1200 - 400 B.C.E.

videos + essays

We're adding new content all the time!

Olmec Jade
Olmec Jade

Jade was a prized material for the Olmec, and their carving has been found throughout Mesoamerica and beyond.

Olmec stone mask
Olmec stone mask

Dress for the job you want, not the one you have: could this mask pendant turn its wearer into a god?

Olmec figurine
Olmec figurine

Olmec figurines are known for their baby faces, as well as a mixture of feline and human traits.

Offering #4, La Venta
Offering #4, La Venta

These seventeen baby-faced figures may have represented a priestly ritual, a sacrifice, or a procession.

Olmec mask at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Olmec mask at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

This face has a naturalistic quality to its skin, but its mouth gives us pause—what does it mean?

Olmec mask
Olmec mask

This was buried in an offering at an Aztec temple, some 1500 years later and far from where it was made.

<em>Kunz Axe</em> (Olmec)
Kunz Axe (Olmec)

In spite its name, this jade figure was a ritual object and never used as an axe.

Selected Contributors | Olmec