added by archaeologs The most important Olmec ceremonial center, located in Tabasco, Mexico, and built around 1000 BC. The site occupies a small island, entirely surrounded by swamps, and lacking both farmland and building stone. The principal monument is a huge lobed pyramid of clay, the tallest of the Olmec sites, and subsidiary structure include platforms and courtyards. La Venta is famous for its Preclassic stone sculpture, buried pavements of serpentine blocks brought from about 100-160 km away, and offerings of carved jade including six jadeite axes. The important buildings were constructed from c 1000-600 BC; the site grew in importance after the abandonment of San Lorenzo, especially during the Middle Formative period c 850-750 BC. The end of La Venta was violent, possibly caused by a conflict between the carrying capacity of the area and the large number of workers needed to construct the site's structures.
added by archaeologs Large Olmec ceremonial centre of the Middle Pre-Classic located on an island in the swampy lowlands of the Tabasco Province of Mexico. The site is dominated by a large, conical clay pyramid some 110 metres high. There are numerous other low platform mounds, oriented on a north-south axis, which are thought to have supported elite residences made from perishable materials. A courtyard palisaded with monolithic basalt columns lies to the north. The site is best known for its great variety of worked stone, made all the more impressive by the lack of local sources. Carved stelae, altars, colossal stone heads in basalt (the nearest source for this material is some 100 km away) and three massive mosaic pavements in serpentine laid in the form of a jaguar mask are among the monumental works. The famous Jade Group, consisting of 16 human figure statuettes and 6 celts arranged in a kind of circular gathering, was buried in association with the main building complex. Household goods are very few and there are only a limited number of burials — although these have rich offerings of magnetite mirrors, sting-ray spines (see perforation) and worked jade. The site flourished from cl000-600 be, but grew in importance after the abandonment of San Lorenzo in c900 be.
The Macmillan dictionary of archaeology, Ruth D. Whitehouse, 1983