North American Artifacts by Civilization

North American Artifacts by Civilization

Top Ten Zapotec Artifacts

Top Ten Zapotec Artifacts

       The Zapotec civilization arose in the Mexican valley of Oaxaca around 500 B.C. It reached its height of artistic and political influence between 200 and 700 AD. As a society it was sharply divided along class lines, between nobility and more common folk. The Zapotec elite governed the territories they controlled from a large and architecturally impressive urban center known as Monte Albán, which supported a large population during its peak. Archaeologists use different phases of the site’s development to date and contextualize Zapotec artifacts. Monte Albán’s core was built upon a leveled mountain top with residential structures located upon terraces constructed down the hillside. By A.D. 700, Zapotec power waned and the population of Monte Albán began to desert the city. While the Zapotec state may have disappeared at this time, the people did not. Over 1200 years have passed since the artifacts featured here were formed and the descendants of the ancient Zapotec still live in their homeland, in the modern state of Oaxaca, Mexico.

  1. Funerary Urn (500-750 AD) 

    This massive funerary urn was part of a larger group of urns which may have contained offerings used during an interment ceremony for someone of elite status. Two other identical urns are known to exist and it is thought that there is another larger urn which also was part of this group. The figure depicted is wearing an elaborate headdress, ear spools and a pendant with tubular shells. Upon the figure’s face is a mask with feline, serpentine and crocodilian attributes. The urn measures 76.8 cm in height and resides in the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art.
    Links:
  2. Gold Mask

    This is a small Zapotec cast gold mask found in Santo Domingo Convent in Oaxaca, Mexico.
    Links: Top 100 MasksTop 100 Gold Artifacts,
  3. Gold Ornaments

    These Zapotec laminate, hammered and pepoussé gold ornaments can be found at the Santo Domingo Convent in Oaxaca, Mexico.
    Links: Top 100 Gold Artifacts,
  4. Bat Urn (550-750 AD)

    The creature on this urn has the head of a bat and a human-like body. Urns like these did not contain human ashes, but were made to be buried with the elite in elaborate tombs. Bats, as well as jaguars, were central animals to the Zapotec and they symbolized mighty underworld (land of the dead) powers. In a religious context, it was believed that the bat was a fierce creature known for biting the heads off of their adversaries. For this reason, the bat became a symbol for Zapotec leadership. The urn stands 40 cm high and can be found in the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art.
    Links:
  5. Chocolate Pot (100 BC–250 AD)

    This round vessel, with a bridge-spout, features the head of an opossum on its neck. The orientation of the spout on this vessel, which is higher than the lip and angled backwards, would not have allowed for effective pouring. The exact use of the spout on such pots is still debated. Matching vessel forms from Maya sites of the same time period are often called “chocolate pots.” Recent studies have determined that some such vessels contained residue consistent with use as containers for Maya cacao beverages. The froth of a cacao beverage was considered highly prestigious, suggesting that the spout was used for blowing frothing air into. To date, no residue tests have been performed on this vessel. The vessel has a diameter of 21 cm and is currently located in the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art.
    Links: Top Ten Chocolates, Top Ten Chocolate MakersTop Ten Cacao Regions,
  6. Necklace

    This is a Zapotec necklace found at Monte Alban.
    Links: Top 100 Necklaces, Top Ten Ancient Necklaces,
  7. Gold Ornaments

    These pieces are Zapotec laminate gold ornaments from the Santo Domingo Convent in Oaxaca, Mexico.
    Links:
  8. Copper Axes

    Description:
    Links: Top Ten Battle Axes,
  9. Links: Artifacts, Top 100 North American Artifacts, Top Ten Paintings by Diego Rivera, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zapotec_civilization, http://www.textilemuseum.ca/cloth_clay/research_zapotec.html, http://www.mcguinnessonline.com/gold/mexico.htm

Top Ten Toltec Artifacts

Top Ten Toltec Artifacts

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       The Toltec culture flourished during the Early Post-classic Period, from 900-1200 AD. The Toltec people migrated from northern Mexico and established an empire in the Central Valley during the 10th century AD. The arrival of the Toltec marked the rise of increased militarism in Mesoamerica, as they dominated their neighbors with superior military force. The Toltec, who sought to stake their ascendancy on the entire region, invaded the Post-classic Maya city of Chichén Itzá, in the Yucatán. Here we see a synthesis of Toltec and Maya art and architecture suggesting a hybridization of both cultures. This temple was a larger and more impressive replica of a structure from the Toltec capital at Tula (north of modern-day Mexico City). By the 12th century, the Toltec empire began to decline. The Central Valley was eventually invaded by numerous peoples, who ultimately sacked their capital.

  1. Warrior Statues

    Description:
    Links: Sculptures,
  2. Sitting Sculpture

    Description:
    Links: Sculptures,
  3. Orange Clay Vessel

    Description:
    Links: Top 100 Busts,
  4. Warrior Carving

           This stone carving is of a Toltec Warrior from the Temple of the Warriors at Chichén Itzá.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 North American Sculptures,
  5. Effigy Vessel Depicting a Kneeling Warrior (900–1200 AD)

           This is an effigy vessel depicting a kneeling warrior. The artistic output of the Toltec suggests something of a fascination with the image of the Toltec warrior. Warriors were commonly presented, as seen here, with the flat-topped pill-box hat, and military weaponry. Vessels such as these are called “Plumbate wares” because their high gloss (a product of the slip and the firing techniques used) resembles a lead oxide, or Plumbate glaze. True glaze decorations were not present in the Americas until the arrival of European colonists in the 16th century.
    Links:
  6. Links: Artifacts, Top 100 North American Artifacts, Top 100 Symbolshttp://www.textilemuseum.ca/cloth_clay/research_toltec.html, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toltec,

Top 100 Mayan Artifacts

Top 100 Mayan Artifacts

       Early Maya society developed from small farming communities to well-developed city-states linked by roadways to other cities and regions. The Classic Maya (250-950 AD) are famous for building impressive monumental architecture, their sophisticated hieroglyphic writing system, their knowledge of astronomy and mathematics, and for craft production including polychrome pottery and intricately woven textiles. Symbolic sculptural records such as Stela H from Copán have provided additional insight into ancient traditions and spirituality. Near the end of the Classic Period cities had grown in size and power. Royal dynasties and powerful gods colored Maya politics, economics, and religion. Ritual performances including dance, music, feasting, sacrifice, and sacred bloodletting were all used to uphold traditional beliefs and ancestor worship. Many unknowns regarding the following chapter in Maya history, the Post-classic Period (950-1520 AD), remain. During that time, Maya life changed fundamentally and building construction ceased at many lowland centers. The reasons why Maya life changed and how remain heated topics of debate.

  1. The Dresden Codex (Codex Dresdensis)

           The Dresden Codex (Codex Dresdensis) is held in the Sächsische Landesbibliothek (SLUB), the state library in Dresden, Germany. It is the most elaborate of the codices, and also a highly important specimen of Maya art. Many sections are ritualistic (including so-called ‘almanacs’), others are of an astrological nature (eclipses, the Venus cycles). The codex is written on a long sheet of paper that is ‘screen-folded’ to make a book of 39 leaves, written on both sides. It was probably written just before the Spanish conquest. Somehow it made its way to Europe and was bought by the royal library of the court of Saxony in Dresden in 1739. The only exact replica, including the huun, made by a German artist is displayed at the Museo Nacional de Arqueología in Guatemala City, since October, 2007. The Venus cycle was an important calendar for the Maya and much information in regard to this is found in the Dresden codex. The Maya courts employed skilled astronomers, who could calculate the Venus cycle with extraordinary accuracy. There are six pages in the Dresden Codex devoted to the accurate calculation of the location of Venus. The Maya were able to achieve such accuracy by careful observation over many centuries. The Venus cycle was especially important because the Maya believed it was associated with war and used it to divine appropriate times (electional astrology) for coronations and war. Maya rulers planned for wars to begin when Venus rose. The Maya may have also tracked the movements of other planets, including Mars, Mercury and Jupiter.
    Links: Top Ten South American Codices, Top 100 Ancient Textshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_codices,
  2. Pacal’s Burial Mask

    Description:
    Links: Top 100 Masks, Top Ten North American Masks,
  3. Mayan Volcanic Explosion Relief

    This Mayan relief depicts the explosion of a volcano and a man and women fleeing from the situation. Some speculate that this scene could be reminiscent of the Atlantean disaster.
    Links: Top 100 Mayan Artifacts,
  4. Tablet of the Sun

           The original Tablet of the Sun on the left, (the right tablet is a plaster cast),
    Links: Top Ten Suns,
  5. Tombstone of Pacal the Great

           This artifact has been a topic of heated debate and curiosity. The widely accepted interpretation of the sarcophagus lid is that Pakal is descending into Xibalba, the Maya underworld. Around the edges of the lid are glyphs representing the Sun, the Moon, Venus, and various constellations, locating this event in the nighttime sky. Below him is the Maya water god, who guards the underworld. Beneath Pakal are the “unfolded” jaws of a dragon or serpent, into whose mouth Pakal descends. This is a common iconographic representation of the entrance to the underworld. Other examples of this imagery are found in sculpture on Monument 1 “El Rey” and Monument 9 at the Olmec site of Chalcatzingo, Morelos, on Altar 4 at the Olmec site of La Venta, Tabasco and in recently discovered murals at the Late Preclassic Maya site of San Bartolo, Guatemala.
    Links: Top Ten Tombs, Top Ten Ancient Cosmonauts Artifacts, http://www.delange.org/PalenqueTomb/PalenqueTomb.htm,
  6. Stela H from Copán

    Description:
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 North American Sculptures, Top Ten Stele, Top Ten North American Stele,
  7. Lintel 15 Relief

           Lintel 15, now in the British Museum, depicting one of the wives of Bird Jaguar IV invoking the Vision Serpent in a bloodletting rite. Originally spanned a doorway in Structure 21, it was removed to the British Museum in 1982-3. Like Lintels 16 and 17 from the same series, it was carved from limestone. It was originally set above the southeast doorway of the central room. Lintel 15 depicts Lady Wak Tuun, one of the wives of king Bird Jaguar IV, during a bloodletting ritual that results in the appearance of the Vision Serpent. Lady Wak Tuun is carrying a basket containing the tools used for the bloodletting ritual, including a stingray spine, rope and bloodstained paper. The Vision Serpent emerges from a bowl containing strips of bark paper.
    Links: Relieves and Petroglyphs, Top Ten North American Relieveshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yaxchilan,
  8. Palenque Relief

    Description:
    Links: Relieves and Petroglyphs, Top Ten North American Relieves,
  9. K’inich Janaab’ Pakal (Pacal the Great)

           K’inich Janaab’ Pakal (23 March 603 – 28 August 683) was ruler of the Maya polity of Palenque in the Late Classic period of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican chronology. During a long reign of some 68 years Pakal was responsible for the construction or extension of some of Palenque’s most notable surviving inscriptions and monumental architecture.
    Links: Top 100 Busts, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%27inich_Janaab%27_Pakal,
  10. Mayan Crystal Skull

    Description:
    Links: Top Ten Skull Artifacts, Top Ten Human Skulls, Top Ten Skulls,
  11. Mayan Mask

    Description:
    Links: Top 100 Masks,
  12. Wood Lintel Celebrating Military Victry of Yik’in Chan K’awiil

           The elaborately carved wooden Lintel 3 from Temple IV. It celebrates a military victory by Yik’in Chan K’awiil in 743.
    Links: National Parks, Top Ten North American Parkshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tikal_National_Park,
  13. Jade Bust of Jasaw Chan K’awiil I

           A vessel with jade inlays from the tomb of Jasaw Chan K’awiil I beneath Temple I and bearing an effigy, probably that of the king.
    Links: Top 100 Busts, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tikal_National_Park,
  14. Relief of Pacal the Great

    Description:
    Links: Relieves and Petroglyphs, Top Ten North American Relieves,
  15. Figural Whistle Depicting a Musician (672 – 889 AD)

           The figure, clad in a headdress, ear-spools and a loincloth, is holding a turtle carapace drum in his left hand and a drumstick in his right. Whether they were musicians, painters, carvers, potters or scribes, artists were very important figures in Maya community life. These people communicated and preserved the history and expressions of ancient Maya culture. Figures similar to this one were excavated at the site of Nebaj. The figure stands 22 cm.
    Links: Top 100 Songs, Top Ten Instrumentshttp://www.textilemuseum.ca/cloth_clay/research_maya1.html,
  16. Vase (650-850 AD)

           This is a Holmul style cylinder vase depicting a dancing lord (ruler). He dances within a frame created by a horizontal sky-band (above him) and vertical hieroglyphic text which may reflect the architecture of Maya royal court buildings. The broad stairways of some Maya buildings were probably used in public performances as stages for dance rituals and pageants. The imagery of the scene depicted around 360° of this vase suggests this dance may have been part of a war ritual. This vase was very probably used for the consumption of cacao beverages during feasting and other rituals. The vase stands 22.8 cm and resides at the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art.
    Links: Top Ten Vases, http://www.textilemuseum.ca/cloth_clay/research_maya4.html,
  17. Temple of the Warriors Altar

           This is the altar at the Temple of the Warriors at Chichén Itzá upon which human sacrifices were made. The altar was painted blue. After human victims were stripped, painted blue, and thrust back down on the altar, their beating hearts were removed.
    Links: Temples, Top Ten North American Templeshttp://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080226162953.htm,
  18. Musician Mural

    Description:
    Links: Top 100 Musical Artists, Top 100 Songs, Top Ten Instruments,
  19. Figure

    Description:
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 North American Sculptures,
  20. Ceramic Plate

           This large ceramic plate from the Late Classic Period is encircled with twenty-two Mayan glyph blocks which convey information about its function and its owner. The text states that it was a plate used for eating white venison tamales and it was owned by The Great Ballplayer, the son of the ruler of Uaxactun. The plate has a diameter of 40 cm and resides in the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art.
    Links: http://www.textilemuseum.ca/cloth_clay/research_maya7.html,
  21. Cylinder Vase Depicting Players of the Maya Ballgame (600–850 AD)

           The painted scene provides information on the equipment required for the game, including leg protection, the padded white waist yoke, and perhaps the unusual upper-body costume. We can assume that the attire is exaggerated here or is an example of pre-game ceremonial garb, for he could scarcely have controlled the black rubber ball in front of him while dressed in an elaborate headdress and a long skirt. The vase stands 24.2 cm and is located in the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art.
    Links: Top Ten Vases, http://www.textilemuseum.ca/cloth_clay/research_maya6.html,
  22. Tetra-Pod Vessel (495-544 AD)

           This lidded tetra-pod vessel is representative of a lagoon environment. The lid of the dish features a beautiful handle in the shape of the curved neck and head of a water bird, possibly a cormorant. In the bird’s mouth is a fish. The top of the lid and the body of the vessel are decorated with swirling designs which might be symbolic of water. The four legs of the dish are thought to be representative of the legs of the peccary, pig-like animals native to Central and South America which often forage for food in wetland areas. The vessel stands 22.8 cm and can be found at the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art.
    Links: http://www.textilemuseum.ca/cloth_clay/research_maya5.html,
  23. Mayan Eccentric

           Mayan chipped stone artifacts called “eccentrics” or “eccentric flints”. They are non-utilitarian chipped stone objects that are normally found in caches or burials, within a ceremonial context associated with the Maya elite. They were made by craft specialists from various types of chert, chalcedony, and obsidian. These mysterious objects were flaked into a large variety of animal and geometric forms. They were linked to ritual practices.
    Links: http://www.precolumbian-gallery.com/maya-azteque-art/mayan-eccentric-58.htm,
  24. Links: Artifacts, Top Ten North American Artifacts, http://www.textilemuseum.ca/cloth_clay/research_maya.html,

Recommendations for Understanding the Mystery of the Mayans

Top Ten Aztec Artifacts

Top Ten Aztec Artifacts

       The Aztec people were certain ethnic groups of central Mexico, particularly those groups who spoke the Nahuatl language and who dominated large parts of Mesoamerica from the 14th to 16th centuries. The Nahuatl words aztecatl and aztecah mean “people from Aztlan,” a mythological place for the Nahuatl-speaking culture of the time, and later adopted as the word to define the Mexica people. Often the term “Aztec” refers exclusively to the Mexica people of Tenochtitlan (now the location of Mexico City), situated on an island in Lake Texcoco, who referred to themselves as Mexica Tenochca or Cōlhuah Mexica. Sometimes the term also includes the inhabitants of Tenochtitlan’s two principal allied city-states, the Acolhuas of Texcoco and the Tepanecs of Tlacopan, who together with the Mexica formed the Aztec Triple Alliance which controlled what is often known as “the Aztec Empire.” In other contexts, Aztec may refer to all the various city states and their peoples, who shared large parts of their ethnic history and cultural traits with the Mexica, Acolhua and Tepanecs, and who often also used the Nahuatl language as a lingua franca. From the 13th century, the Valley of Mexico was the heart of Aztec civilization: here the capital of the Aztec Triple Alliance, the city of Tenochtitlan, was built upon raised islets in Lake Texcoco. The Triple Alliance formed a tributary empire expanding its political hegemony far beyond the Valley of Mexico, conquering other city states throughout Mesoamerica. At its pinnacle, Aztec culture had rich and complex mythological and religious traditions, as well as reaching remarkable architectural and artistic accomplishments. In 1521 Hernán Cortés, along with a large number of Nahuatl speaking indigenous allies, conquered Tenochtitlan and defeated the Aztec Triple Alliance under the leadership of Hueyi Tlatoani Moctezuma II. Subsequently the Spanish founded the new settlement of Mexico City on the site of the ruined Aztec capital, from where they proceeded with the process of colonizing Central America. Aztec culture and history is primarily known through archaeological evidence found in excavations such as that of the renowned Templo Mayor in Mexico City; from indigenous bark paper codices; from eyewitness accounts by Spanish conquistadors such as Hernán Cortés and Bernal Díaz del Castillo; and especially from 16th and 17th century descriptions of Aztec culture and history written by Spanish clergymen and literate Aztecs in the Spanish or Nahuatl language, such as the famous Florentine Codex compiled by the Franciscan monk Bernardino de Sahagún with the help of indigenous Aztec informants.

  1. Sun Stone

    The Sun Stone is an Aztec calendar and shares the basic structure of calendars found throughout ancient Mesoamerica. This calendar is recorded as a carving on the Aztec Calendar Stone currently found in the National Museum of Anthropology and History located within Chapultepec Park, Mexico City.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 North American Sculptures, Top 100 Mandalas, http://www.crystalinks.com/aztecalendar.html,
  2. Xochipilli

    This Aztec of the god of love, dance, beauty  flowers and maize, seated cross-legged on a throne decorated with flowers and butterflies. It is located in the Museo del Templo Mayor.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 North American Sculptures,
  3. Cihuacoatl

    This 15 foot tall sculpture is of the Aztec “Mother Goddess” and was carved in volcanic stone. The Aztecs called her “Coatlicue” or “Cihuacoatl,” which refers to her skirt of serpents and face made up of two serpent heads. There are 13 feathers carved into the back part representing levels of the cosmos.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 North American Sculptures,
  4. The Stone of Tizoc

    The legendary stone of Tizoc shows the victories of Tizoc, the seventh ruler (1481-1486). On it are carved fifteen scenes, each with two figures: the conqueror Tizoc and the leader of the vanquished people. In reality Tizoc’s reign was a military disaster. The stone is 2.65 m in diameter and currently resides in the Museo Nacional de Antropología in Mexico City.
    Links: Relieves and Petroglyphs, Top Ten North American Relieves,
  5. Obsidian Monkey

    One of the most valued pieces in the National Museum of Anthropology is a pure obsidian monkey, possibly pregnant. It is thought to represent the god of dance, play and love.
    Links:
  6. Serpent Head

    The third major Aztec sculpture on the rotunda floor is a gigantic and fearsome stone serpent head and which is dated circa 1250-1521 A.D. It measures 90 by 92 by 155 centimeters and is in the collection of the Museum Nacional de Antropologia, INAH, Mexico City. This type of sculpture was usually placed along the stairs of temples as “protection” for the god. Shown bearing its fangs, this serpent is not easily ignored or forgotten.
    Links: Top 100 Busts,
  7. Fragments of a Brazier of Tláloc

    These are fragments of a brazier representing Tláloc, the god of rain. It is made out of tezontle stone, which is a type of volcanic rock, and was painted in ochre and red, and adorned with a crown of feathers.  It currently resides in the Museo del Templo Mayor.
    Links:
  8. Fragment of an Anthropomorphic Brazier (1300 AD)

    This is a fragment of an anthropomorphic brazier made with fired clay and pigment. It measures 18 x 22 x 9 centimeters and can be found in the Museo Universitario de Ciencas y Arte, Mexico City.
    Links: Top 100 Busts,
  9. Aztec Mosaic Skull, Mexico

    Aztec-decorated skull at the National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City.
    Links: Top Ten Healthy Things to DoTop Ten Skulls, Top Ten Human Skulls, Top 100 Symbols
  10. Aztec Vase

    This finely carved Aztec vase was found during excavations of the Templo Mayor in Mexico City.
    Links: Top Ten Vases,
  11. Aztec Sculpture

    This sculpture was found during excavations of the Templo Mayor in Mexico City.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 North American Sculptures,
  12. Aztec Sculpture

    This sculpture was found during excavations of the Templo Mayor in Mexico City.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 North American Sculptures,
  13. Aztec Relief

    This relief was found during excavations of the Templo Mayor in Mexico City.
    Links: Relieves and Petroglyphs, Top Ten North American Relieves,
  14. Brazier

    This brazier was found in the Templo Mayor and depicts Tláloc, the god of rain, with tears running from his eyes. Braziers were placed on pyramids and in front of temples for burning copal. It currently resides in the Museo del Templo Mayor in Mexico City.
    Links:
  15. Decorated Skull

    This human skull has been decorated with jade tiles. It can be found in the Museo Nacional de Antropología in Mexico City.
    Links: Top Ten Skulls, Top Ten Human Skulls,
  16. Representation of Quetzalcoatl

    This statue representation of Quetzalcoatl emphasizes the snake component of the legendary plumed serpent deity. This piece currently resides in the Museo Nacional de Antropología in Mexico City.
    Links: Top Ten Aztec Gods,
  17. Aztec Feathered Wood Scepter

    Description:
    Links: Top Ten Scepters, http://www.precolumbianwood.com/aztec.htm,
  18. Aztec Sacrificial Knife (15th-16th Century)

    This is a sacrificial wooden handled knife  from Mexico. The handle of this knife is carved in wood and covered with mosaic of turquoise, shell and malachite, while the blade is made of chalcedony.
    Links: Top Ten Knives/Daggers, Top Ten Aztec Weapons, http://www.precolumbianwood.com/aztec.htm,
  19. Aztec Wooden Shield

    This is an Aztec wooden shield covered in feather.
    Links: Top Ten Shields, Top Ten Aztec Weapons, http://www.precolumbianwood.com/aztec.htm,
  20. Links: Artifacts, Top Ten North American Artifacts, http://www.thecityreview.com/aztec.html, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aztec

Recommendations for Understanding the Aztecs

Top Ten Olmec Artifacts

Top Ten Olmec Artifacts

       The Olmec have been identified by what remains of their technically impressive and naturally expressive sculptures, which they crafted on both small and grand scales. The Olmec were an early culture (1,200-600 BC) and are thought to have been one of the first peoples to establish and exhibit many of the hallmarks of larger Mesoamerican civilization. The Olmec founded several powerful centers in what are now the Gulf Coastal Mexican states of Veracruz and Tabasco, a tropical lowland environment. The Olmec were not alone in this region and where surely influenced by their neighbors and by the older cultures that had previously lived in the area. One of the more unique remains of Olmec culture are the colossal, carved stone heads they created. Who the colossal heads were meant to represent is not known; however, it has been suggested that they were made to be portraits of rulers. Each head is different, with slight variations in expression and features. They are all adorned with helmet-like headdresses.

  1. Colossal Stone Heads

    Although the meaning and who the stone heads are meant to represent are unknown, it has been suggested that they were made to be portraits of rulers. Each head is different, with slight variations in expression and features, but they are all similar in the fact that they are adorned with helmet-like headdresses.
    Links: Top 100 Busts,
  2. Gold Plate Cloak

    Description:
    Links: Top 100 Gold Artifacts,
  3. La Venta Altar

    Description:
    Links: Top Ten Altars,
  4. Olmec Sculpture at La Venta Park, Villahermosa, Mexico

    Description:
    Links:
  5. Las Limas Monument 1

    Las Limas Monument 1 is a greenstone figure of a youth holding a limp were-jaguar baby. Found in the Mexican state of Veracruz in the Olmec heartland, the statue is famous for its incised representations of Olmec supernaturals and is considered by some a “Rosetta stone” of Olmec religion. The largest known greenstone sculpture, it is also known as the Las Limas figure and the Señor de las Limas.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 North American Sculptures, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Las_Limas_Monument_1,
  6. Jade Mask

    Description:
    Links: Top 100 Masks, Top Ten North American Masks, Top Ten South American Masks,
  7. The Wrestler (1200-800 BC)

    Description:
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 North American Sculptures, Top Ten Wrestlers
  8. El Azuzul Twin

    This statue is located in El Azuzul, Mexico. El Azuzul is an Olmec archaeological site in Veracruz, Mexico, a few kilometers south of the San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán complex and generally considered contemporary with it (perhaps 1100 to 800 BCE). Named for the ranch on which it is located, El Azuzul is part of the Loma del Zapote complex. The site occupies the higher elevations north of the confluence of two ancient river courses, a part of the Coatzacoalcos River system.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 North American Sculptures, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Azuzul,
  9. Jade Sculpture

    Description:
    Links:
  10. Kunz Axe

    This 3,000 year old Olmec jade sculpture known as the Kunz Axe, is believed to represent a chief or shaman who transformed himself into a jaguar to partake in the animal’s power. Although shaped like an axe head, with an edge along the bottom, it is unlikely that this artifact was used except in ritual settings. At a height of 11 in (28 cm), it is one of the largest jade objects ever found in Mesoamerica.
    Links: Top Ten Axes, Top Ten Daggers/Knives, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olmec,
  11. Bonus: La Venta Mosaic

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    Links:
  12. Bearded Head

    Description:
    Links: Top 100 Busts,
  13. Olmec Mirror

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    Links:
  14. Olmec Mask

    Description:
    Links: Top 100 Masks, Top Ten North American MasksTop Ten South American Masks,
  15. Gold Necklaces and Terra Cotta Figure (550–950 AD)

    These Olmec cast gold necklaces and terra cotta figure were made sometime between 550–950 AD and now reside in the Gemological Institute of America.
    Links:
  16. Were-Jaguar Statue

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    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 North American Sculptures,
  17. Statuettes

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    Links:
  18. Olmec Celt and Figurine Cache

    This cache of figurines was found in La Venta Park, Mexico.
    Links:
  19. Olmec Jade Head Sculpture

    Description:
    Links: Top 100 Busts,
  20. Olmec Jade Jaguar

    This is a jade figurine of a jaguar, which was found in Mexico.
    Links:
  21. Bird Vessel (12th–9th Century BC)

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    Links:
  22. Olmec Figurines (1,100-800 BC)

    Hollow clay figures like the one on the right are commonly referred to as “baby-faces” because of the plumpness of the limbs and the infant-like poses. They are quite distinctly Olmec in style and inspiration, but as a form were widespread in Mexico during the Preclassic Period. This particular example likely came from the early settlement of Tlapacoya, which was in the northern part of the Valley of Mexico. As with most seated “baby-faced” figures, this one is not wearing clothes. The plump arms and legs, small feet, and almond-shaped eyes are characteristic of the Olmec style.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 North American Sculptures, http://www.textilemuseum.ca/cloth_clay/research_olmec1.html,
  23. Ball Game Relieves
    El Tajin ruins Ball game place Relief El Tajin Mexico Latin America Central South America. Image shot 2008. Exact date unknown.tonina-players-of-the-maya-version-of-the-pan-mesoamerican-ballgame-1
    Description:
    Links: Relieves and Petroglyphs, Top Ten North American Relieves, Top Ten South American Relieves,
  24. Olmec Figure (1,000 BC)

    This is an Olmec figure found on the Gulf Coast of Mexico.
    Links:
  25. Jade Figurine

    This figurine was found in Chiapas, Mexico.
    Links:
  26. Figurine

    Description:
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  27. Figurine

    Description:
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  28. Bonus: Bottle

    Description:
    Links: Top Ten Ancient Works of Pottery,
  29. Bonus: Painting of a Ruler in the Juxtlahuaca Cave

    Description:
    Links:
  30. Links: Artifacts, Top 100 North American ArtifactsTop Ten South American Artifacts, http://www.textilemuseum.ca/cloth_clay/research_olmec.html, http://www.mcguinnessonline.com/gold/mexico.htm,

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