800 BCE.Olmec Jadeite Mask 1000-600 BCE
were the first major civilization inMexico. They lived inthetropicallowlands of south-central Mexico, in the modern-day statesof VeracruzandTabasco.
The Olmec flourished duringMesoamerica'sFormativeperiod, dating
roughly from as early as 1500BCEto about 400 BCE. Pre-Olmeccultures had flourished in the area since about 2500 BCE, but by1600-1500 BCE Early Olmec culture had emerged centered around theSan Lorenzo Tenochtitlánsite near the coast in southeast Veracruz.
They were the first Mesoamerican civilization and laid many of thefoundations for the civilizations that followed.
The Olmec civilization was firstdefined through artifacts which collectors purchased on thepre-Columbian art market in the late 19th century and early 20thcentury. Olmec artworks are considered among ancient America's moststriking.
The Olmec and Untold American HistoryRBG Library 09-20-2012