TABASCO & VERACRUZ, MEXICO
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31, 2013 PETER A. BOSTROM
The colossal heads of the
Olmec are impressive. They are the most recognizable symbol of the Olmec
civilization. Their large size and strong features project qualities of
strength and power. They are believed to be individualized portraits of
important rulers. Each one wears a different helmet-like head covering
that have been referred to as ballplayer's helmets. The first colossal
head was discovered in 1862 when a Mexican scholar reported one found at
Tres Zapotes in Tabasco.
Seventeen colossal heads have been discovered so far in the
Olmec heartland, where the states of Veracruz and Tabasco meet in the
tropical coastal plain of southern Mexico. Ten of the heads have been
recovered from the site of San Lorenzo Tenochtitlan in Veracruz. Two
have been found at Tres Zapotes, Veracruz one at Rancho la Cobata,
Veracruz, and four at La Venta, Tabasco. They range in size from 4.82
feet (1.47 m) high at Tres Zapotes to 11.15 feet (3.4 m) at Rancho la
Cobata. It's estimated that the largest heads weigh between 25 and 55
The five colossal heads in this picture were discovered on
two different sites. The example at top left and the two in the lower
row were found at La Venta. The two at top right were
found at San Lorenzo. The top center head measures 6 feet 1 1/4 inches (1.86 m) high.
All five examples are made of basalt.