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The great majority of scholars who specialise in Mesoamerican history, archaeology and linguistics remain unconvinced by these speculations. Many are more critical and regard the promotion of such unfounded theories as a form of ethnocentric racism at the expense of indigenous Americans. The consensus view maintained across publications in peer-reviewed academic journals that are concerned with Mesoamerican and other pre-Columbian research is that the Olmec and their achievements arose from influences and traditions that were wholly indigenous to the region, or at least the New World, and there is no reliable material evidence to suggest otherwise. They, and their neighbouring cultures with whom they had contact, developed their own characters which were founded entirely on a remarkably interlinked and ancient cultural and agricultural heritage that was locally shared, but arose quite independently of any extra-hemispheric influences.
Originally posted by Teahupoo
Now, in regards to your theory of them being ball players, I am not so sure about that either simply due to the fact that many of the ball players were part of sacrificial rituals. The game which is known as Pok Ta Pok by the Maya and Tlachtli by the Aztec often ended in the death of the losing team.
The rubber ball only had to pass through the stone hoop once for a victory.
Below is an image that depicts how the game was played, however the actual hoop was smaller, the ball barely passed through which is why only one point had to be scored for a win.
I lived in the Yucatan for sometime and can tell you that the ball court in Chichen Itza is a sight to behold, it is also the largest of all the Mesoamerican ball courts.
Incidentally, near the court there is a square wall which contains a mound which I believe was for displaying the heads of the decapitated losers. The stone walls were adorned with many individual cases which I believe was to honor those who were sacrificed.
As someone who has also lived in the region I can tell you that the Mayan people in particular have a body structure and a language unlike no other on the planet.
Olmec civilization initially flourished at the site of San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán in southern Veracruz province from 1200 to 900 b.c.e. Some radiocarbon dating indicates a presence as early as 1500 b.c.e., and early Olmec settlers may have inhabited the area even before this time. However, most of the site’s monuments that distinguish this civilization date from the mid-1100’s b.c.e. Another important Olmec center, La Venta, in Tabasco province, functioned between 800-400 b.c.e.
These Olmec sites were not true cities but impressive political and religious centers run by an elite of religious specialists and ruling families. Artisans and farmers also figured among their inhabitants. Monumental structures, such as huge platforms 3,000 feet (914 meters) long, 1,000 feet (305 meters) wide, and reaching heights of 150 feet (46 meters), as well as pyramids, altars, and tombs, indicate that these centers served as gathering places for religious rituals and burial sites for the leadership.
At San Lorenzo, elaborate drainage systems and hydraulic works were constructed from joined sections of U-shaped carved stones covered with capstones. These constructions served as aqueducts that channeled water into sacred and decorative pools and created fresh streams running throughout the complex for drinking and bathing. Some flow was also diverted for waste runoff.
The scope of massive labor-intensive projects at these sites suggests the existence of Mesoamerica’s first political state, which exercised strong governmental control and direction over the farming populace.