San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán - Olmec Capital Polity

Olmec Site of San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán

Olmec Colossal Head, San Lorenzo Tenochtitlan, Mexico
Olmec Colossal Head from San Lorenzo Tenochtitlan, Mexico, now at the Museum of Anthropology at Xalapa. Utilisateur:Olmec

San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán is the name of a polity capital of the Olmec civilization. San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán is a large fairly densely settled area within the Coatzacoalcos floodplain in the state of Veracruz, Mexico. Within the floodplain are numerous sites and farmsteads dated to the period, located on the San Lorenzo plateau and several places along levees.

Some of the residences were placed within the floodplain.

To cope with recurrent floods, the Olmec built raised platforms, or rebuilt on the top of older houses. Some of these led to fairly large tells, tall mounds built up from successive occupation debris. Some such residences were between 18-40 meters across, and consisted of a central house surrounded by a cleared lot of up to 50 meters in width.

The earliest appearance of Olmec iconography on pottery appears in San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán, during the Initial Formative period of 1775-1500 cal BC. Kings emerged at San Lorenzo during the early Formative between ca. 1150-900 BC.

Sites in San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán: The main center within the zone is called San Lorenzo; smaller sites are Tenochtitlan, Potrero Nuevo, Loma del Zapote, El Remolino, Paso los Ortices, El Manatí, Teopantecuanitlán, Río Pesquero, and Takalik Abaj


This glossary entry is a part of the Guide to the Olmec Civilization, and part of the Dictionary of Archaeology.

Blomster, Jeffrey P., Hector Neff, and Michael D. Glascock 2005 Olmec Pottery Production and Export in Ancient Mexico Determined Through Elemental Analysis. Science 3071068-1072.

Cyphers, Ann 1999 From Stone to Symbols: Olmec Art in Social Context at San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán. Pp. 155-181 in DC Grove and RA Joyce, Social Patterns in Pre-Classic Mesoamerica.

Dumbarton Oaks: Washington DC

Pohl, Mary D. and Christopher von Nagy 2008 The Olmec and their contemporaries. Pp. 217-230 in Encyclopedia of Archaeology, D.M. Pearsall, editor. Elsevier: London.

Wendt, Carl J. and Ann Cyphers 2008 How the Olmec used bitumen in ancient Mesoamerica. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 27(2):175-191.