The Great Pyramid was the largest Mesoamerican structure of its time. 1 (Sources of Stones Used in Prehistoric Mesoamerican Sites): 1–44. Even today, after 2500 years of erosion, it rises 34 m (112 ft) above the naturally flat landscape.
These shared the same basic food crops and technologies of the later Olmec civilization.
What is today called Olmec first appeared fully within the city of San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán, where distinctive Olmec features occurred around 1400 BCE.
It has been speculated that Olmec derive in part from neighboring Mokaya or Mixe–Zoque.
The population of the Olmecs flourished during Mesoamerica's formative period, dating roughly from as early as 1500 BCE to about 400 BCE.
Whatever the cause, within a few hundred years of the abandonment of the last Olmec cities, successor cultures became firmly established.
The Tres Zapotes site, on the western edge of the Olmec heartland, continued to be occupied well past 400 BCE, but without the hallmarks of the Olmec culture.
These changes may have been triggered by tectonic upheavals or subsidence, or the silting up of rivers due to agricultural practices.
One theory for the considerable population drop during the Terminal Formative period is suggested by Santley and colleagues (Santley et al.
The Olmecs were the earliest known major civilization in Mexico following a progressive development in Soconusco.
They lived in the tropical lowlands of south-central Mexico, in the present-day states of Veracruz and Tabasco.
Here the Olmec constructed permanent city-temple complexes at San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán, La Venta, Tres Zapotes, and Laguna de los Cerros.