The History Of Olmec Stone Heads Elmira College/ Mesoamerica Essay

1104 words - 5 pages

The Olmec Heads
“Seated like Buddha’s atop rocky mounds, the giant Olmec heads stare impassively into space with their large almond-shaped eyes” (Mitchell, 2003). The Olmec Colossal Heads, just about everybody has seen pictures of these incredibly rare and beautiful artifacts. Nobody really knows what these colossal heads are supposed to represent but what we do know is the amount of time, work, as well as materials used to create these magnificent heads. It is believed by many that these heads represent Olmec rulers. As of 2018, only seventeen of these Olmec artifacts have been found at four key Olmec sites, La Venta, San Lorenzo, La Cabata and Tres Zapotes (Minister, 2018). “The Olmec buried the heads and most of their other artistics creations, perhaps to hide them from invaders or to offer them to their gods” (Mitchell, 2003). The Olmec Colossal Heads are made out of one singular type of stone, a giant basalt boulder (Mitchell, 2003). The largest these heads was discovered in La Cabata “it stands about ten feet tall and weighs an estimated forty tons” (Minister, 2018). The Olmec Colossal Stone Heads show the people throughout history that they were incredibly artistic, determined, and highly skilled in crafting tools and other materials out of stone.
These stone heads have only been found in four different places, but before the heads were heads they were just a boring old basalt boulder. These huge basalt boulders the Olmec needed to carve these stone heads were not just found anywhere and everywhere. These giant almost unmovable boulders had to come from places far and wide. Some have traveled over sixty miles (Pool, 2010). John Mitchell writes in his journal entry, “somehow the Olmec transported enormous pieces of basalt from the Tuxtla Mountains to make this impressive sculptures, which is sixty two miles as the crow flies from La Venta” (2003). Nobody know exactly how these boulders weighing thousands of pounds were moved, but it is believed by many that large river rafts were used when going across water and on land the Olmecs used log rollers (Mitchell, 2003). During these journeys to transport the basalt boulders to where they needed to go several thousand people were needed; as well as enough food and other crucial supplies needed for months (Clark, 1997).
The first step the Olmec took in crafting their famous Colossal Heads was finding a basalt boulder that they could use to carve out the precise head with all of the facial features. Once they found a boulder they would begin the process of moving it to where the carving would take place. As stated before this was a long and grueling process due to not having the crains and technology we have today. Once the boulder was in place the Olmecs had to ensure they had the proper stone tools they needed to successfully carve the stone. The tools that the Olmec used were made of only stone, no metal (Minister, 2018). This meant the tools often broke and they...

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