OriginsWhat we today call Olmec first appears within the city of San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán,where distinctive Olmec features appear around 1400 BCE. The rise of civilizationhere was assisted by the local ecology of well-wateredalluvialsoil, as well as by thetransportation network that theCoatzacoalcos Riverbasin provided. Thisenvironment may be compared to that of other ancient centers of civilization: theNile,Indus,andYellow Rivervalleys, andMesopotamia. This highly productive
environment encouraged a densely concentrated population which in turn triggeredthe rise of aneliteclass.
It was this elite class that provided the social basis for theproduction of the symbolic and sophisticated luxury artifacts that define Olmecculture.
distances ranging from 200 to 400 km away (120- 250 miles away) respectively.
La VentaThe first Olmec center, San Lorenzo, was all but abandoned around 900 BCE atabout the same time that La Venta rose to prominence.
A wholesale destruction of many San Lorenzo monuments also occurredcirca950 BCE, which may point to aninternal uprising or, less likely, an invasion.
The latest thinking, however, is thatenvironmental changes may have been responsible for this shift in Olmec centers,with certain important rivers changing course.