La Venta, Olmec Ruin Site Villahermosa Museum, Mexico
Colossal heads were sculpted from blocks of basalt that in in some instances weighed as much as twenty tons. The stones had been brought 60 miles from the Tuxtla Mountains via the river systems.
The sculptures, 17 in total so far discovered, are now located mainly in two museums, La Venta in Villahermosa and the Anthropology Museum in Jalapa, Veracruz.
One head is located at the entrance of the museum at San Lorenzo Tenochtitlan, Veracruz State, Mexico, an early Olmec settlement.
The first Olmec settlements were active from 1600 BC to 400 BC in what is now Tabasco and Veracruz States of Mexico.
At the ruin site of La Venta, excavators feared the loss of the artifacts as the oil production encroached on the site. In 1957 they moved the stone sculptures, including four Colossal heads, to the museum and sculpture park of La Venta in Villahermosa, Parque Museo de La Venta
Visitors to the original site will see recreated sculptures and the still existent 110 foot high earthen hill built by the Omecs that some researchers believe is the representation of a volcano. Other research indicates that the pyramid, Mexico's oldest, was originally rectangular in shape and stepped. Visitors can climb to the top for a view of the site.
La Venta was one of the Olmec's important settlements, coming into prominence after the decline of San Lorenzo Tenochtitlan, the earliest of the settlements that flourished from 1600 BC to 900 BC.
La Venta was a ritual center according to archaeologist who note the many sculptures and stone artifacts that indicate its use for ritual. The small former island site, in what is now Tabasco State, is noted for an earthen pyramid and many Olmec sculptures.
The sculptures, including four Olmec heads were moved in 1957 to the La Venta Museum in Villahermosa to protect them from oil development at the original La Venta site.
The original La Venta site was noted for Olmec sculpture of large stone heads like the one at right. This stone sculpture was moved from the La Venta Ruin site where in 900BC, the Olmecs built an important ritual site.
Olmec sculpted head at the La Venta Museum in Villahermosa, Tabasco State, Mexico.
This 9 foot high stone sculpture, known as Monument 1, was found on the south side of the earthen Pyramid.
Reaching San Lorenzo Tenochtitlan and the Olmec Homeland:
Bus out of Mexico City Tapo or Norte for Veracruz. From Veracruz head to Coatzacoalcos or Minatitlan south east of Catemaco. Then head by local bus to Acayucan where you get a collective taxi for the ten miles to the small farming village of San Lorenzo. (San Lorenzo Tenochtitlan. Just Tenochtitlan on some maps)
From Oaxaca , ADO first Class bus to Coatzalcoalcos or Minatitlan bus to Acayucan, taxi to San Lorenzo.
Have lots of small change for taxis (5 and 10 peso, 20 peso max.) Cash is scarce in remote areas of Mexico
The La Venta, Olmec Ruin Site Museum in Villahermosa, Mexico offers Olmec heads and other Olmec sculptures taken from the ruin site of La Venta, a flourishing Olmec settlement and ritual center from 900 BC to 400BC.
The Olmec were Mexico's earliest advanced civilization. They developed settlements in the Coatzacoalcos River drainage system from 1600 BC to 300 BC. They are noted for three dimensional sculptures in stone, most notably the 20 ton stone heads. The original La Venta site was an island and this allowed the Olmec to transport the stone via water.
Reaching La Venta Museum in Villahermosa:
Bus out of Mexico City Tapo or Norte for Veracruz. From Veracruz head to Coatzacoalcos and then to Villahermosa. ADO bus runs frequent service from Mexico City, Veracruz, and Oaxaca City.
Altar Four from the site of La Venta. Researchers now believe that these altars where thrones.
Altar of the children, so called for the depiction of children on both sides. The children are held by adults and show the effects of cranial shaping or deformation.