People can only speculate at the scale of your influence.

You invented the ball-game and the long-count calendar used by The Mayans and Aztecs long after they had forgotten your name. They worshipped your gods and used your city layout as the blueprint for their civilisations. Experts wonder what else you bequeathed down the generations, what other ideas and inventions were yours. 

But for more than two thousand years your very existence was forgotten, until, in the 1850s, a farm worker discovered a colossal carved head. 

Then archaeologists unearthed the splendour of San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán with its elaborate structures and complex water systems. They discovered how, over the centuries, you used more and more land to feed your growing populace, until soil erosion caused the River Coatzacoalcos to silt up, forcing you to abandon your first great city. 

Undaunted, you built La Venta, an even greater city, with its monumental pyramid still visible today. For five hundred years you prospered there, until in 400BCE, your civilisation suddenly collapsed. 

Archaeologists say your local environment was so depleted by overgrazing and deforestation that when an earthquake hit, you had no reserves and your people starved. They call you ‘Olmecs’, but even today no one knows your true name. 

Olmec Civilisation

Alex Harvie

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