Today I’m at the National Anthropological Museum in the city of Xalapa, Mexico. It houses the largest collection of Olmec artifacts in the world.
Are you familiar with the Olmecs? They’re the first major civilization that we know of in the Americas. Yep, older than the Aztecs, Maya, Zapotec, and Incas.
The Olmecs ruled from about 1500 BCE until 400 BCE—that’s over a thousand years! They first emerged at a place called San Lorenzo and then moved east to the coastal areas of Tres Zapotes and La Venta.
Even if you haven’t heard of the Olmecs, maybe you’ve seen pictures of the colossal stone heads they built. Each head was carved from a single block of basalt, which is an igneous rock formed from cooled volcanic lava.
Seventeen colossal heads have been discovered so far…just like the one behind me. That’s San Lorenzo Colossal Head 1. It’s 7 feet wide, 10 feet tall, and weighs more than 25 tons (over 50,000 pounds!) It was found in the town of Texistepec and is now on display right here at the national museum in Xalapa.
And, boy, is this place is loaded with cool statues, pottery, and artwork. If you ever come to Mexico, you have to visit the Olmec museum to see these amazing artifacts for yourself.