|Olmec jadeite mask 1000–600 BCE|
Sunday, June 14, 2015
Ancient Mexico, History Documentary: The Xi People (or Olmecs) Mother Civilization of the Americas, Documentary
Olmec alternative origin speculations are explanations that have been suggested for the formation of Olmec civilization which contradict generally accepted scholarly consensus. These origin theories typically involve contact with Old World societies. Although these speculations have become somewhat well-known within popular culture, particularly the idea of an African connection to the Olmec, they are not considered credible by the majority of researchers of Mesoamerica.
The great majority of scholars who specialize in Mesoamerican history, archaeology and linguistics remain unconvinced by alternative origin speculations. Many are more critical and regard the promotion of such unfounded theories as a form of ethnocentric racism at the expense of indigenous Americans. The consensus view maintained across publications in peer-reviewed academic journals that are concerned with Mesoamerican and other pre-Columbian research is that the Olmec and their achievements arose from influences and traditions that were wholly indigenous to the region, or at least the New World, and there is no reliable material evidence to suggest otherwise. They, and their neighbouring cultures with whom they had contact, developed their own characters which were founded entirely on a remarkably interlinked and ancient cultural and agricultural heritage that was locally shared, but arose quite independently of any extra-hemispheric influences.
Some writers claim that the Olmecs were related to peoples of Africa based primarily on their interpretation of facial features of Olmec statues. They additionally contend that epigraphical, genetic, and osteological evidence supports their claims. The idea was first suggested by José Melgar, who discovered the first colossal head at Hueyapan (now Tres Zapotes) in 1862 and subsequently published two papers that attributed this head to a "Negro race." The view was espoused in the early 20th century by Leo Wiener and others. Some modern proponents such as Ivan van Sertima and Clyde Ahmad Winters have identified the Olmecs with the Mandé people of West Africa.
Some researchers claim that the Mesoamerican writing systems are related to African scripts. In the early 19th century, Constantine Samuel Rafinesque proposed that the Mayan inscriptions were probably related to the Libyco-Berber writing of Africa. Leo Wiener and others claim that various Olmec and Epi-Olmec symbols are similar to those found in the Vai script (a relatively modern script in Liberia which may have Cherokee influence), in particular, the symbols on the Tuxtla Statuette, Teo Mask, Cascajal Block, and the celts in Offering 4 at La Venta.
These assertions have found no support among Mesoamerican researchers. While mainstream scholars have made significant progress translating the Maya script, researchers have yet to translate Olmec glyphs.
Genetic and immunological studies over the past two decades have failed to yield evidence of precolumbian African contributions to the indigenous populations of the Americas.