From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
          This article is of interest to the following WikiProjects:
WikiProject Mesoamerica (Rated B-class, Top-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Mesoamerica, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, its civilizations, history, accomplishments and other related topics on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
B-Class article B  This article has been rated as B-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Top  This article has been rated as Top-importance on the project's importance scale.
WikiProject Mexico (Rated B-class, High-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Mexico, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Mexico on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
B-Class article B  This article has been rated as B-Class on the project's quality scale.
 High  This article has been rated as High-importance on the project's importance scale.
WikiProject Indigenous peoples of the Americas (Rated B-class, Mid-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Indigenous peoples of the Americas, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Indigenous peoples of the Americas on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
B-Class article B  This article has been rated as B-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Mid  This article has been rated as Mid-importance on the project's importance scale.
Wikipedia CD Selection
WikiProject icon Olmec is included in the Wikipedia CD Selection, see Olmec at Schools Wikipedia. Please maintain high quality standards; if you are an established editor your last version in the article history may be used so please don't leave the article with unresolved issues, and make an extra effort to include free images, because non-free images cannot be used on the DVDs.

GA1 discussion (transcluded)[edit]

GA Review[edit]

This discussion is transcluded from Talk:Olmec/GA1. This discussion is now closed as the article was withdrawn. Please do not edit the review page.


Hello, I have had a quick read through and will start the process within a day or so.Look forward to working with you all. Edmund Patrickconfer 18:13, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

GA First Review[edit]


  • ..."Their cultural influence, however, extends far beyond this region...." reads as if it still exists in present day? ..Their cultural influence, however, extened far beyond this region. If you mean it still does this needs to be made clearer.
I have changed the "extends" to "extended".
  • ...The most familiar aspect of Olmec civilization is their artwork, particularly the aptly-named colossal heads.In fact, the Olmec civilization was first..two uses of the word "civilization"
I have dropped the 1st one.

Early history

  • "...The rise of civilization here was probably assisted by the local ecology of"... seems an odd way of putting it. Are you saying that the group of people developed into a civilisation because of, or that a group of people were attracted to this area, settled and became ... because of ... I know one quite possibly leads to another!
The writer is saying "because of . . . " It's not your typical sentence, but I've always kinda liked it, in particular the alliteration of "local ecology of well-watered rich alluvial soil". I didn't write it, but I haven't changed it either. I believe that the article's next 2 sentences explain how the local environment boosted the civilization by comparing it with other early civilizations, and then supplying a this-leads-to-this-and-then-to-this step-thru.
  • ...It is thought that the dense population concentration at San Lorenzo encouraged the rise of an elite class that eventually ensured Olmec dominance and provided the social basis for the production of the symbolic and sophisticated luxury artifacts that define Olmec culture.... a very important statement -- can it be referenced?
This has not only been referenced, but has been rewritten to make the matter clearer (at least I hope it's clearer).
  • ...for example, is found in the Motagua River valley in eastern Guatemala and their obsidian was from sources in the Guatemala highlands, such as El Chayal and San Martin Jilotepeque or in Puebla. Can these have distances, terrain crossed or some example of the difficulties, skills required to obtain the artefacts so that the general reader can begin to get an idea of values / power / position of the owners.
I've added distances.

La Venta

  • ...Environmental changes may have been responsible for this move, with certain important rivers changing course.... first part fine but if rivers changed can we have a reference please.
Reference provided.
  • ."..lasting from 900 BCE until its abandonment around 400 BCE. During this period, the Great Pyramid and various other ceremonial complexes were built at La Venta...." can we have tighter dates to the buildings given rather than the approximate 500 years. if not the point is still valid, an amazing civilisation that created the following.
Let me check. If I remember, they have had difficulty dating the various structures.
(Later) Yes, there was only one dating sequence run there, and it won't really help. So, I took out this sentence and tried to give an idea of what actually defined La Venta. Hope you like it.


  • "...This depopulation was likely the result of environmental changes: perhaps the result of important rivers changing course or silting up due to agricultural practices...." those rivers again ... and perhaps sounds like an editor thought! looking for an answer ... archaeologist believe / think... the evidence leads to the possibility that ... geophysicians have found possible evidence for...research leads to ...
I expanded this section, trying to explain more of what might have happened. I removed the word "perhaps".

Colossal heads

  • ..."As no known pre-Columbian text explains these, these impressive monuments have been the subject of much speculation...." => "As no known pre-Columbian text explains these, the impressive monuments have been the subject of much speculation." Reads better I believe?
Yes, the ". . . these, these . . ." was not good. I have changed it to: "As no known pre-Columbian text explains them, these impressive monuments have been the subject of much speculation."

Beyond the heartland

  • Quite a few heartlands in section, an another word / title be found to vary the language, without obviously loosing any meaning? In fact it would be good to have about three words and remove some of the heartlands from throughout the article.
"Olmec heartland" is a term used by archaeologists to describe a specific area, and there's a separate (if slight) article on the subject. I added a clause to clarify that and wikilinked the term (not sure why it wasn't). I nonetheless understand the problem associated with continuous repetion of a word, and removed 4 occurrences from the article. Hope this works.

Bloodletting and sacrifice

  • ...Definitive answers will need to await further findings.... Any definitive answers will need to await further findings. hopefully reads better.
I have made the change suggested.

Mesoamerican ballgame

  • "...indicates that even at this early date, the ballgame had religious and ritual connotations..." needs reference
After quite a bit of work here -- researching, writing, and rewriting -- I found the citation (Diehl, p. 27), but I also realized that we should not to go into a lot of detail on this particular matter (i.e. whether these deposits prove the ballgame had religious and ritual connotations at this early date). This is somewhat off-topic and should instead be covered in more depth in the Mesoamerican ballgame article (to which I added on this topic). So, I clarified that the discovery of balls does not prove that the Olmecs played the game, but it does indicate that they probably did. If this doesn't work for you, let me know.

Ethnicity and language

  • ...Since the Mixe-Zoquean languages still are, and historically are known to ... since the Olmec culture is now generally regarded as the first "high culture" of Mesoamerica, it has generally been regarded as probable that the Olmec spoke a Mix...two since could the 2nd be replaced with and that
I have reworded that paragraph and added a bit more at the start of the section as well as 2 citations on the "scholars assume . . ." sentence. Maunus, a fellow Olmec editor, also added some material to clarify and which ties back to the earlier San Lorenzo => La Venta theme.

Religion and mythology

  • ...The rulers were probably the most important religious figures, ... there are quite a few "probably" throughout the article, possible / possibly to me reads as within existing knowledge / research it is possible that... which to me is more positive and less judgmental than probably. Your thoughts dear editors?
I have changed the "were probably" to "seem to have been". In general, in these types of archaeological settings, I think that "probably"s are appropriate, as long as it's clear from the overall context &/or citation that the text speaks for verifiable mainstream scholarship opinions. In archaeology or history there are few statements that can be made with certainty, and adverbial qualifiers are standard issue. (verbiage partially plagiarized from User:CJLL Wright).

Social and political organization

  • heartland again three times in this section, a variety IMHO is needed.
See discuss above.

This is my first read through, and although long does not mean I won't return to the same sections, but a lot of the above is as a new reader looking to this article for clarity and information. All in all an excellent article, and once again I have learnt something about a part of Mesoamerican culture I knew little about, and that surely is what it is all about. Edmund Patrickconfer 19:12, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

Good ideas. I'll research these, make a few wording changes, add citations, and will be back in touch. Thanks, Madman (talk) 04:47, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Still working thru the list. Stay tuned. Madman (talk) 14:16, 17 September 2008 (UTC)
Done, I think, with this round. Madman (talk) 04:02, 19 September 2008 (UTC)
Looks good I will read through in the next 48 hours. Stirling work. Edmund Patrickconfer 20:28, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

GA second review[edit]


  • ...The Olmec culture was first defined as an art style, and it continues to be... The Olmec culture was first defined as an art style, and this continues to be.
  • ...Rectangular "altars" (more likely thrones) such as Altar 5 shown above.... could not see it. found it below!

Village life and diet

  • ...increasingly important to the Olmec diet over time, although the diet remained fairly diverse.......increasingly important to the Olmec diet over time, although the diet remained fairly diverse...
  • Please have a look at the results from [1] suddenly quite a few weblinks seem to have closed!
Yes, they have. They all work now.

The article looks and reads well. A complex subject not yet totally understood part of history which this article informs and makes sense.Edmund Patrickconfer 19:37, 20 September 2008 (UTC)

GA second review[edit]

I've fixed the notes above. I'm in no hurry, so I'll await your return. Madman (talk) 02:01, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

Hey there Madman. Just one minor suggestion I'd meant to make before now but hadn't got round- in the opening sentence of the lead, "The Olmec were an ancient Pre-Columbian people ...", I'd propose describing Olmec as a "culture", rather than a "people" (might have to recast the sentence, not just swap the words in/out). As a lot of the rest of the article indicates, what today is called 'Olmec' is known through an assemblage of archaeological remains and artefacts, & the ethnic/linguistic makeup of the folks who produced those archaeological culture remains is still under some debate. To me, "people" in that sentence implies a degree of ethnic/linguistic unity or self-identity, that we are not sure they really had. Does that make sense? Cheers, --cjllw ʘ TALK 14:32, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
I understand your concerns about the use of "people". It may have come from Encarta, which also describes the Olmec as a "people".
I'm not sure that the word "culture" fits here, though, since the article specifically describes the Olmec of the Gulf lowlands (as the 1st sentence says: "The Olmec were an ancient Pre-Columbian people living in the tropical lowlands of south-central Mexico,. . . "). While the article does mention other important Formative period sites in one specific section, the rest of the article analyzes sites, living patterns, and other archaeological evidence only within the heartland.
I would be happy with using "civilization" instead of "people". "Civilization" is a word that both Coe (America's First Civilization Discovering the Olmec) and Diehl (The Olmecs: America's First Civilization) used in the titles of their books. But this is not an article on "Olmec culture". That would be, to a greater or lesser extent, the Olmec influences on Mesoamerican cultures article.
Your thoughts?? Madman (talk) 17:49, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
We (archaeologists) are sloppy when we talk about "Olmec". At times we mean the people who inhabited the Gulf Coast sites, at times, we mean "Olmec" as an art style, and so on. This actually is an article about the Gulf Coast people who were Olmec. Culture fits. People works. Rsheptak (talk) 23:53, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
Yes thanks Rus, that's partly what I was getting at. While a statement like "the Olmec were a Formative-era people in the Gulf Coast region" is not of itself incorrect, to my mind it doesn't quite capture the full story. "Civilization" would be a good alternative, meaning can overlap the archaeological culture that's been defined as Olmec, and the people(s) of the specific region and time where this culture was most prevalent.--cjllw ʘ TALK 01:15, 26 September 2008 (UTC)

I saw one thing in the article that concerned me a little bit, and partly its nit picking, but just when are you dating the start of the Olmec civilization? The article says 1400 BC, and I always thought it was 1200 BC, but at another point the article talks about 1600 BC Olmec materials from Laguna Manati. Generally, the 1600 BC date is considered to be pre-olmec, and probably it should be pointed out somewhere that there were people, and things going on, in the olmec heartland before the olmec, including at Laguna/Cerro Manati that were indicative of complexity; that olmec is an increment in complexity, not complexity grown out of nothing. Rsheptak (talk) 00:03, 25 September 2008 (UTC)

The reason that several dates appear is that, as you note, the development of the Olmec civilization was a gradual process. So Olmec-type artifacts appear at El Manati as early as 1600 BCE, but Olmec civilization has been bracketed as 1400 - 400 BCE (by Pool) and 1500 - 400 BCE (by Diehl). Pool and Diehl have authored the two most recent general books on the Olmec and so it's probably best to use their dates.
And don't even ask about radiocarbon vs. chronological years.
The fact that the Olmec didn't appear full-blown all-at-once is addressed, I hope, by the Olmec#Early_history section, which describes the rise of the civilization at San Lorenzo. Madman (talk) 02:54, 25 September 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for the posting Madman. I don't follow the olmec heartland archaeology myself except at conferences. I think there's widespread agreement on olmec style pottery beginning around 1400 BC with olmec "art" (whatever we want to call the iconography) and sculpture starting around 1200 BC. However, the inclusion of the earliest Laguna Manati materials as "Olmec" and their actual dating, is controversial.
BTW its always critical to know whether dates are in raw radiocarbon or calibrated years, expecially in this early timeframe where calibration can make a significant difference in the date.
Anyhow, all I meant to point out was that the discussion in the article didn't fully match the periodization in the article. Rsheptak (talk) 00:08, 26 September 2008 (UTC)
Hey, I said don't ask about radiocarbon dating!!  : )
I guess I don't necessarily see a periodization mismatch in the article, but perhaps I'm too close to it. I do see that various experts diverge on their starting dates for various reasons, but the article reports on what they say rather than attempt a synthesis or spend a lot of "ink" trying to reconcile the differences. Personally, I think the dates are one the least important facts (or rather expert opinions) in the article, since the dates are fuzzy anyway (they are almost all based on radiocarbon dating which is often ±100 years). To me, 1400 BCE and 1500 BCE both fall under the heading of "long time ago in a place far far away" (with apologies to George Lucas).
In any case, I added to footnote #4 in the article explaining a bit more about why Olmec dates are problematic. Hope this helps, Madman (talk) 02:39, 26 September 2008 (UTC)

Withdrawing GA nomination[edit]

I have run out of time to devote to citing the 46 {{fact}} tags added by the second reviewer, so I am withdrawing this article from nomination. Madman (talk) 04:18, 2 October 2008 (UTC)

It says "The Olmec Flourished during Mesoamericas formative period. How can this be true when the culture that inhabited Mesoamerica under that period i still unknown?

Not sure if I am entering comments properly, but I'd like to make a few fundamental points:

- given the long-standing disagreement over the origins of the Olmec culture, then it seems hazardous to brand any particular area as a 'Heartland'; this was, and remains an unfortunate historical choice of words which imparts an apriori judgement of an open academic question - if, as is often stated, Olmec culture is primarily identified as an artistic style then the world Heartland becomes fairly meaningless - the choice of 'beyond the heartland' implies ancillary cultural development when, by virtue of simple physical evidence, the 'beyond' development, in total, seems to significantly surpass influence and development as evidenced in the 'heartland'

There was a far greater Olmec presence along the Rio Balsas drainage than is known/accepted by most archaeologists. Covarrubias understood this and nothing in the subsequent decades has refuted his early and fundamental view on the subject -- Teopantecuanitlan is merely a singular exclamation point, and many sites remain to be found and researched, funding and interest permitting. (talk) 18:27, 31 December 2012 (UTC)

please remove the alternate origin specualtion section[edit]

this is a)rejected by nearly all historians b) a fringe theory and thus not supported and c) to argue this section is needed would mean you MUST also put an alternate origin section on the pages about Chinese, Spanish and every other empire out there as there are those who believe china was founded by is a theory, however plausible. in fact it seems unfair, and may i even say a bit racist that Native Americans are the only ones that have fringe theories on their page, yet no one else does. why is that? so either remove that section or ad a similar one to every other empire or country. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:54, 12 August 2012 (UTC)

Inventions: Compass[edit]

Yale archaeologist, Dr Michael Coe discovered a small piece of worked metallic ore at San Lorenzo on the Gulf Coast which seemed to function as a compass. Similar items are found at all of the Olmec sites near the garbage dumps and probably were used originally as fire starter elements to protect the hand. If coupled with the fact that most pyramids at these Olmec sites are aligned with what would have been magnetic north at the time, it seems plausible that they had use of the compass more than 1000 years before China. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Driskillsmith (talkcontribs) 15:53, 8 November 2012 (UTC)

We'd need a source such as Coe claiming these were compasses in order to add that to the article. Dougweller (talk) 17:01, 8 November 2012 (UTC)

African: Proof[edit]

Proof does not not require numbers as in Euroconfusion. Viz, the Greeks could not comprehend Egyptian mathematics because their inntereye had long ago been sealed. There is a proven link between melanin deficiency and pineal atrophication. The Greeks "measured" the Earth, Geo Metry, in an attempt to subjugate and destroy what they found there hostile, the fruits of the sun. Likewise, the Olmec statuary has therein the heart of the congo drum. Measured by the heart, resonant, to all who know, not they who measure the shadows wherein fruit groweth never. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 16:22, 25 August 2014

Any DNA evidence Research should be included[edit]

Is there any DNA research on Olmec anything? It would be nice to see it in this article.--Inayity (talk) 15:54, 29 September 2014 (UTC)