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The Olmec

 
 
The Olmec
Images from In the Land of the Olmec, Coe & Diehl, University of Texas Press, Austin. Photograph, above left, by José Luis Hernández.
 
Felipe Dávalos (on left, above) studies the colossal heads at the Olmec site of San Lorenzo in 1967. Taking careful measurements and notes of each detail, Dávalos drew every monument from four sides (above, right). Most scholars believe the sculptures are portraits of important rulers of Mesoamerica’s first civilization.

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Great rivers helped move multiton blocks from the Los Tuxtlas Mountains near the Gulf of Mexico to the swampy plains where they are found today. In Dávalos’s re-creation, workers transport a ruler’s monuments to La Venta. Such hefty blocks were likely moved on sledges to riverbanks and rafted downstream along the seacoast, and then upriver.

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