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Culture and Religion Give Clues About Olmec

Much of what has remained of the Olmec civilization over the years gives most information about their religion, the pantheon of gods and goddesses, and spiritual practices that affected their everyday lives. These take the form of artwork, which is mostly stone statuary, and some later records. For example, the Aztec, Mayan, and even Spanish explorers and conquistadors shared information about the religious practices they found when they arrived in Mesoamerica.

Archaeologists have found coded records of their gods and goddesses and how they practice religion in general. While there is an indication that they had priests, who were quite influential and important to everyday life, the records do not give enough specific information to create a complete picture of what they did.

From a political standpoint, it seemed obvious that a ruling family appointed members to go out and control various agricultural villages that surrounded the main city. This was especially noticeable in the San Lorenzo area.

Due to the configuration of this and other city areas, and through understanding the later Aztec and Mayan groups, the Olmec priest class was undoubtedly quite powerful as well. Besides the massive stone heads that obviously depicted kings due to their Jaguar headdresses, much of the other art and artefacts discovered in the region focused on religious beliefs and those who could speak to the gods.

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