Part 4: Summary

Personal Reflection
Example of Olmec Jade Figurines--possible ritually offered and buried

I chose to do this Pathfinder on the Olmec largely because of my interest in the controversy that surrounds their art style and material culture. "Olmec archaeology" first began in the late 1930s, early 40s and has since then gone back and forth across many different playing fields--to start with the Mayans came first, then the Olmec are termed the "mother-culture" by a panel headed by Miguel Covarrubias in the late 40s. Now, we're swinging back again to a discussion of a "pre-Olmec" society as the "mother-culture" of Mesoamerica. All of this is fascinating to me, especially when you consider that we do not even really know the name the people we are studying called themselves by--"Olmec" is from the Aztec language, meaning "rubber people," a name adopted because the "Olmec Heartland" is high in rubber producing trees. Even with the argument surrounding cultural origins, much of the symbolism behind the Olmec art has not changed. When you consider that much of Mesoamerica has built a pan-Mesoamerica pantheon and ideology off of Olmec styled thought and artistic pattern, it begins to not matter "who came first." It is simply a matter of wanting to understand WHY this particular culture was important enough to warrant such high standing even through the tests of time.

I hope that the information presented here has been insightful and inspiring. Thank you.