The Olmecs resided in Mesoamerica from around approximately 1200 B. C. to about 400 B.C. Those who believe that the Olmecs were the mother civilization believe that the Olmec were essentially the earliest civilization in Mesoamerica, having a lot of influence on surrounding cultures. Those who believe that the Olmecs were the sister civilization believed that the Olmecs were not the first civilization or an influence on other cultures, but the Olmecs were the ones that were influenced by other societies around them.
    A civilization is a group that is highly organized. They usually have a sophisticated culture, industry/work system, and government (chain of command).  Archaeologists do not have enough information to determine whether or not the Olmecs were the mother civilization of Mesoamerica or the sister civilization, and it is still an ongoing debate.
   These giant stone heads are a huge part of the Olmec culture and are found throughout ancient Olmec areas.

Mesoamerican Timeline
This timeline shows when the Olmec were around in comparison to other civilizations. The Olmec were here in 1200 B.C. That's 200 years before the Maya!