The Olmec were an ancient, MesoAmerican society that lived in southern-central México prior to any European voyages to México. Dating back to around 1500 BCE, the civilization thrived for hundreds of years.
The Olmec civilization began in the fertile lands around the Gulf of México, near a river that acted as their transportation network. Olmec society had a hierarchy ruled by an elite class. Many luxury artifacts have been found far from the original Olmec settlements, evidence that the Olmec elite had access to an extensive trading network.
The Olmec are famous for their artwork, especially their colossal heads, often using exotic materials from afar. They are also thought to have invented the ball game used for recreational and religious purposes throughout central America. As well, they took part in ritual human sacrifice through their polytheistic practices.
It is not known what caused the decline of the Olmec, but it is known that major environmental changes affected the area and its agriculture around 400 BCE, which could be a reason for the loss of population.