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The Olmecs of southern Mexico are America’s oldest civilization and Mesoamerica’s ‘Mother Culture’. Long famous for their colossal heads carved from giant boulders, the Olmecs have fascinated the public and archaeologists alike since the 1940s when National Geographic magazine reported the initial explorations of their centres. Despite well-publicized discoveries of spectacular basalt sculptures, portable jade objects and richly decorated pottery vessels, until recently almost nothing was known about Olmec history, foreign contacts and daily life. Now archaeologists have recovered information that allows them to assemble a remarkably broad picture of Olmec culture and its impact on later Mexican civilizations.

The Olmecs established the first cities in the Americas on high ground overlooking the rivers that meander across south-eastern Mexico’s hot, fertile Gulf coastal lowlands. Between the 13th and 6th centuries BC, rulers of San Lorenzo and La Venta oversaw the construction of palaces, pyramids, plazas, richly stocked tombs and religious sanctuaries. They also commissioned hundreds of multi-ton sculptures carved from raw basalt obtained at quarries located almost 100 miles from their capitals.

Adam Nicolson author, HarperCollins publisher 2003, 280pp, h/c, dj, b&w photos.

Ex library issue with light tanning to textblock/pages. A good clean copy.

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  • Seller location: Rotorua, Bay of Plenty, NZ

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