The Olmecs: An African Presence
in Early America
(In Celebration of Black History Month)
By Paul A. Barton
February 28, 2001
According to an archeologist who recently participated in archeological work in Mexico, One of the most ancient civilizations in the Americas, the Black (Negritic) Olmecs developed a calendar that goes back to about 3,113 years Before Christ. The archeologist who appeared on the Art Bell show made that point.
The ancient "Olmecs" of Mexico and Mesoamerica are one of the most intriguing civilizations of the Americas. In fact, they are the first civilization in Mexico and it was from them that all other civilizations in Mesoamerica followed.
Yet, the fact that the Olmecs were most likely a Black civilization of African origins has not been made public and the "Indian" elements in Mexico have gained more prominence to the extent that the Negroid substrata of the ancient Mexican/Mesoamerican civilizations has been kept hidden.
Yet, over the past many years, various levels of proof have been found linking the "Olmecs" to Africans in the Western part of Africa:
Studies done by researchers such as Ivan Van Sertima (They Came Before Columbus), Alexander Von Wuthenau (Unexpected Faces in Ancient America), Runoko Rashidi and others have presented evidence that clearly show that the Olmecs were not Indians with "baby faces," or Indians who looked like Blacks (although a few Olmecs did mix with the Native Americans). They were Africans no different from Africans found in the Mende regions of West Africa.
Studies done by Clyde Winters show that the Olmecs used the Mende script, a writing system used among the Mandinkas and other Africans in West Africa. When the writings on Olmec monuments were translated, it was found that the language spoken by the Olmecs was Mende.
The Olmecs practiced a religion and astronomical sciences identical to those practiced by Africans in the Mali region and Nigeria today. The Olmecs studied the Venus Complex in astronomy. Today, the Ono and Bambara who are famous sea and river travelers have studied that same complex for thousands of years. In fact, another group the Dogon are well known for their tracking and mapping of the Sirius star system and their accurate results.
The Olmecs also had a religious practice of Thunder worship where the ax was a prominent feature. In West Africa, the ax is also a prominent feature in connection with the Shango or Thunder God worship. Both the Olmecs and the Shango worshippers in West Africa placed an emphasis on the religious significance of children in their religious practices.
The Olmecs carved about twenty-two collosal stone heads in the southern parts of Mexico and their influence have been found in Guatemala and further south. Olmec type sculptures have also been found in parts of the U.S., (the Washitaw Nation of Louisiana; www.hotep.org ), where another prehistoric Black nation (who still has members and land today) existed.
The Olmecs and Washitaw, Black Californians, Jamassee, Califunami and other pre-columbian Blacks of the Americas were part of a prehistoric trade network that began in Africa and spread worldwide over 100,000 years ago and at various periods afterwards. According to the book, Susu Economics The History of Pan-African Trade, Commerce, Money and Wealth, these Blacks found in the Americas, as well as remnants of their ancient civilizations are not a myth or fairytale.
The ancient Blacks of the Americas are the missing pieces of a large puzzle that would be solved if many of today's writers, scientists, historians and archeologists were not as biased or "embarrassed," like the Mexican archeologists who found out without a doubt, that the Olmecs of Mexico were Black Africans and they introduced the first astronomical calendar to Mexico about 3,113 years Before Christ.
Not only is there an ancient Black African presence and contribution to the creation of civilization and culture in prehistoric and ancient America, but there also is such a presence and contribution in Mesopotamia (Nimrod a son of Kush developed the region, it is said), Sabea/Arabia, India, Cambodia, Southern China and Melanesia/South Pacific region.
African Cultural Similarities
The Olmecs used an African practice that is very common in Africa and to some extent in Melanesia. That practice is body scarification and specifically facial scarification as practiced in West Africa. Many of the facial scars seen on the Olmec terracotta faces, such as "dot" keloids and "lined" patterns are identical to Africans such as the Dinka of Sudan and the Yoruba and others of West Africa. (Dinka scarification can be found in old copies of National Geographic. Olmec scarification can be found in the text by "Alexander Von Wuthenau, Unexpected Faces in Ancient America."
African hairstyles such as cornroes are found on many of the Olmec terracotta found in Mexico. Both kinky hair carved into one of the collosal stone heads of basalt, as well as the cornroed style wearing tassels (see African Presence in Early America, by Ivan Van Sertima; Transaction Publishers), have been found.
The "cornrow" factor clearly shows that these Blacks who were in Mexico in prehistoric times most likely came from the West Africa/South Sahara region, rather than Melanesia. It is in West Africa that cornroes are very common and have been since prehistoric times.
Olmecs Introduced The First Aspects Of Meso-American Civilization
The Black Olmecs were the first to build "pyramids" in Mexico, although these were built of mud and one was more cone-shaped then actually pyramidal. The Olmecs apart from carving 22 collosal stone heads dating to about 1100 B.C., also created thousands of work of art throughout Mesoamerica. Olmec terracotta art show people involved in a variety of activities from wrestling to pottery making.