The Olmec

The Olmec were the first civilization in the Americas {Not the first people}. When they arrived is not known, but a guess of 8,000-4000 B.C. should do. Recent research suggests 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 later Olmec civilization. The Olmec culture is thought to have ended around 400 B.C. These Olmec inhabited southern Mexico, and are regarded as the Mother Culture of the Americas – that is to say, the later Amerindian cultures and technology of the Americas, descend from Olmec culture and technology.

The name Olmec means “rubber people” in Nahuatl, the Aztec language. It was the Aztec name for the people who once lived in this area, and extracted latex from rubber trees. Europeans mistakenly assigned the name to ancient ruins that they found there, not realizing that those ruins pre-dated the Aztec and all other civilizations in the Americas. The word “Olmec” also refers to the rubber balls, used for the ancient ball game of Olmec creation. The Olmec called themselves the Xi, the same name that they used when they were in China. They often depicted themselves with colossal heads, some of which were deformed, and whose meaning is unknown.

Tradução em Português (Primeiros dois parágrafos):

Os Olmecas formaram a primeira civilização das Américas (não eram as primeiras pessoas). Não se sabe quando eles chegaram, mas se supõe que estavam aqui de 8.000-4000 a.C. Pesquisas recentes sugerem que os Olmecas tiveram suas raízes nas primeiras culturas agrícolas de Tabasco, que começaram entre 5100 a.C e 4600 a.C. Estes compartilhavam as mesmas culturas alimentares básicas e tecnologias da civilização Olmeca posterior. Acredita-se que a cultura Olmeca se extinguiu em torno de 400 a.C. Estes Olmecas habitavam o sul do México e são considerados como a Cultura Mãe das Américas – isto é, as culturas ameríndias e as tecnologias que vieram depois deles nas Américas, descendem da cultura e da tecnologia Olmeca.

O nome Olmeca significa “pessoas de borracha” em náhuatl, a língua asteca. Era o nome asteca para os povos que viveram uma vez nesta área, e extraíram o látex das árvores para fabricar borracha. Os europeus atribuíram equivocadamente o nome às ruínas antigas que encontraram lá, não compreendendo que aquelas ruínas pré-dataram os asteca e todas as outras civilizações nas Américas. A palavra “Olmeca” também se refere às bolas de borracha, usadas para o antigo jogo de bola criada pelos Olmecas. Os Olmecas se chamavam Xi, o mesmo nome que usavam quando estavam na China. Muitas vezes se representavam com cabeças colossais, algumas das quais eram deformadas e cujo significado é desconhecido.

Tradução: Ana Burke

When evidence of the Olmec was first discovered (in 1863), scientists at first didn’t know what to make of them. The questions were, where did they come from, and how did they get here? It was first thought that the Olmec were west Africans, who had came across in boats. But now there is mounting evidence that the Olmec were remnants from the Xia dynasty of China, who probably had come across the Bering straits into the Americas.

What may be evidence of their trek south, along the western north-American coast, can be seen in the masks of the Tsimshian Indians of the western coast of Canada, and in written accounts of the California Indians in The United States. There is also the similarity between Xia Human sacrifice in China, and Olmec human sacrifice in the Americas, as well as their fondness for jade work. The last and most recent evidence: comparison of Shang writing in China, and Olmec writing in America, show the two to be very similar. Of course, we won’t even mention that they still called themselves the Xi or Xia.

The Olmec were like the other Ancients, a highly advanced culture. They had writing, mathematics, and a calendar system. Their religion was Shamanism – the supposed ability to assume the powers of animals.

 Olmec cities had ceremonial buildings or temples, that were typically earthen platform mounds, with house-like structures built upon them. At La Venta we can see such platform mounds arranged around large plazas as well as a tall pyramid. Olmec cities also had aqueducts and drainage systems.

The Olmec introduced many things to the Americas, most of them good. However, the Xia/Olmec practice of Human sacrifice, which even intruded unto another Olmec invention, The Rubber Ball Game, was not. And there is no doubt, that the Amerindians wholehearted acceptance and subsequent practice of human sacrifice, was the major contributor to their demise. The hatreds that built-up because the strong were using the weak as pools of sacrificial candidates, meant that they would do exactly as they did do, when the occasion arose.


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