Mesoamerica (Zapotec & Olmec) By emily, taryn, angelo, cyddni


  • Status was usually hereditary
  • Men had the same occupations as their fathers and there was very little exception
  • Women could not marry outside of their social class
  • Upper class: rulers, nobles, and priests. Middle class: businessmen, merchants, and soldiers. Lower class: farmers and slaves
  • Women were allowed to be involved in government and economics
  • Women also had to take care of the house and children


  • The Olmec people left no written records
  • Their politics incorporated their societal structure
  • The elites and the wealthy held power within society
  • The civilization was held in a monopoly
  • Elites took over multiple resources to exert control
  • Priests became very important rulers



  • Hot and humid and covered with swamps and jungles
  • In some places giant kept sunlight from reaching the ground
  • A lot of land was bad for farming and agriculture


  • Abundant deposits in salt and tar
  • Clay was very good for pottery
  • Wood and rubber from the rainforest
  • Hills in the north provided hard stone from which the Olmec made tools and monuments
  • Rivers provided a means of transport
  • Floodplains of these rivers provided fertile land for farming


  • Valley had fertile soil
  • MIld climate
  • Enough rainfall to support agriculture


  • Rugged region of mountains, some places weren’t adequate for agriculture


  • Olmec traded as far North as Mexico City to Honduras in the South
  • Zapotec, Olmec, and other civilizations near or in the Oaxaca valley fought with the Zapotec emerging dominant.


  • had Altar's, columns, colossals, and big sculpted heads of the olmec rulers
  • La Venta, (900 b.c) a 100 foot high mound of earth and clay. Was a tomb for the great olmec ruler. May have also been a center for olmec religion
  • around 1200 B.C a huge sculpture of heads and their small finely crafted stone carvings began being built. Much of their art reflected a fascination with the jaguar. The people used to worship a jaguar spirit.
  • Built religious centers with pyramids
  • Zapotec; built temples and had monumental sculptures. By early 500 B.C they had developed early forms of writing and a calendar system
  • Towering pyramids, temples and palaces all made out of stone surrounded the plaza



  • The olmec people directed a large trade network throughout mesoamerica
  • Their goods reached Mexico City in the north, and Honduras in the South, they also attained raw materials such as iron ore from faraway regions


  • Most people were peasant farmers
  • The main crops were maize, beans, and squash


Created with images by SupportPDX - "Mesoamerica" • quapan - "diorite mask in profile left beside to serpentin Malinaltepec mask (both were produced in Teotihuacán)" • Arian Zwegers - "Mitla, Group of the Columns, Palace of Columns" • Becker1999 - "Jaguar" • SupportPDX - "Mesoamerica" • DEZALB - "mexico anthropological museum mesoamerica"

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