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The Olmecs were the earliest known major civilization in Mexico following a progressive development in Soconusco.They lived in the tropical lowlands of south-central Mexico, in the present-day states of Veracruz and Tabasco.Here the Olmec constructed permanent city-temple complexes at San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán, La Venta, Tres Zapotes, and Laguna de los Cerros.In this region, the first Mesoamerican civilization emerged and reigned from The beginnings of Olmec civilization have traditionally been placed between 14 BCE.
The Olmec heartland is the area in the Gulf lowlands where it expanded after early development in Soconusco.
This post-Olmec culture, often labeled Epi-Olmec, has features similar to those found at Izapa, some 550 km (330 miles) to the southeast. "The Politicization of the Mesoamerican Ballgame and its Implications for the Interpretation of the Distribution of Ballcourts in Central Mexico".
Wrought in a large number of media – jade, clay, basalt, and greenstone among others – much Olmec art, such as The Wrestler, is naturalistic.
1997) who propose relocation of settlements due to volcanism, instead of extinction.
Volcanic eruptions during the Early, Late and Terminal Formative periods would have blanketed the lands and forced the Olmec to move their settlements. Between 400 and 350 BCE, the population in the eastern half of the Olmec heartland dropped precipitously, and the area was sparsely inhabited until the 19th century. "The Geoarchaeology of Settlement in the Grijalva Delta".