Olmec society had a significant influence and is often described as the “Mother culture”, research has shown that Olmec society built complex centers at different sites during their height. They rose in prominence in about 1500 BC and declined by 600 AD.The “Olmec heartland”, and its social, political and economic influence, was an area of some 16,000 km². The Olmec holds a special place in the sweep of cultures that rose and fell before the arrival of Europeans. Because of their achievements in art, politics, religion, and economics, the Olmec are like “mother culture” to all the civilizations that came after, including the Maya and the Aztec.
Trade pathways while suitable for day-to-day trade, does not suit megalith transport. Olmec society moved many large stones for stelae, altars or thrones and sculptures. Amongst the hundreds of stones that were used for different purposes, the largest known stone La Venta 1, which weighs about 40 tonnes. Most Colossal Heads weigh between 6 tonnes and 26 tonnes. They vary in height from between one and a half meters to three meters and their circumference varies from three meters to almost six meters.
The stones are sourced near the foothills of the Tuxtla Mountains, Any direct land route would encounter swamps and perennial flood plains so the existence of these natural obstacles endorsed ideas for water transport of these megaliths. We know that the Olmec used canoes for trade, whether they are suitable for megalith transport is uncertain. Let’s say the Olmec did use water transport from their source to final destination, establishing land based pathways from their source points in the foothills of the Tuxtla Mountains to suitable water staging sites would still require analysis of large tracts of land.
In Mesoamerica transporting megaliths involved technological knowledge, logistical expertise and significant resources to overcome natural features and oceanographic hurdles. The methods and routes that were chosen continue to be the subject of debate and considerable speculation.The sources for stones were often distant from their final position, and the terrain is challenging, with swamps, floodplains and rivers, many of which are seasonal.
How did they do it?