La Venta (American Indians Ready Reference)
La Venta is the site of an ancient Olmec city in southeastern Mexico. Begun about 1100 b.c.e., La Venta is not the oldest of the known Olmec cities. San Lorenzo, south and west of La Venta, was settled well before 1300 b.c.e. Nor was the site of La Venta easy to locate, for the city had been demolished several hundred years before the birth of Christ. It was uncovered only in 1925 by the Danish anthropologist Franz Blom. Since then, archaeological excavations have uncovered the ancient Olmec city with its ceremonial center. Archaeologists have learned much about the skills and society of this prehistoric culture from excavating the city.
La Venta exhibited a carefully planned site with many mounds and a large pyramid nearly 100 feet high. This pyramid, when fully uncovered, proved to be conical in shape, unlike the pyramids of other Mesoamerican cultures, which had rectangular bases and flat, sloping sides. La Venta's structures were different from those of other cities because they were built of dried mud instead of stone. Some of these structures served as burial sites for important individuals, and many impressive artifacts, perhaps burial offerings, have been found throughout the city. One pit contained hundreds of polished and decorated stone axes, and there are several large mosaic floors in other pits. These mosaics are indicative of a people with great skill; they consist of hundreds of pieces which formed, in some cases, the shape of a jaguar....
(The entire section is 463 words.)
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