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1600 – 1500 BC. Early Olmec culture had emerged, centered on the San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán site near the coast in southeast Veracruz.

C. 1500 BC. Early Olmec sculptors mastered the human form.

950 BC. The wholesale destruction of many San Lorenzo monuments, the city being the center of this civilization, which may indicate an internal uprising or, less likely, an invasion.

C. 900 BC. San Lorenzo is abandoned. Following the decline of San Lorenzo, La Venta became the most prominent Olmec center.

C. 400 BC. La Venta is abandoned.

C. 1850 AD. The colossal head now labeled Tres Zapotes Monument A – had been discovered by a farm worker clearing forested land on a hacienda in Veracruz.

1869 AD. Mexican antiquarian traveler José Melgar y Serrano published a description of the first Olmec monument to have been found in situ.

1925 AD. Frans Blom and Oliver La Farge made the first detailed descriptions of La Venta and San Martin Pajapan Monument 1.

1942 AD. The question of Olmec chronology came to a head at a Tuxtla Gutierrez conference, where Alfonso Caso declared that the Olmecs were the “mother culture” (“cultura madre“) of Mesoamerica.

1976 AD. Linguists Lyle Campbell and Terrence Kaufman published a paper in which they argued a core number of loanwords had apparently spread from a Mixe–Zoquean language into many other Mesoamerican languages. Campbell and Kaufman proposed that the presence of these core loanwords indicated that the Olmec – generally regarded as the first “highly civilized” Mesoamerican society – spoke a language ancestral to Mixe–Zoquean.

2002 AD. The find at the San Andrés site shows a bird, speech scrolls, and glyphs that are similar to the later Maya script.

2006 AD. Find from a site near San Lorenzo shows a set of 62 symbols, 28 of which are unique, carved on a serpentine block. A large number of prominent archaeologists have hailed this find as the “earliest pre-Columbian writing”.

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