These images were shot at the “Olmec: Colossal Masterworks of Ancient Mexico” exhibition at the de Young museum, in San Francisco.

America’s oldest civilization, the Olmec flourished from as early as 1500 BCE to about 400 BCE in the tropical lowlands of south-central Mexico, in the modern-day states of Veracruz and Tabasco.

They were the first major Pre-Columbian civilization in Mexico and laid many of the foundations for the civilizations that followed. 

Among other “firsts”, there is evidence that the Olmec practiced ritual bloodletting and played the Mesoamerican ballgame, hallmarks of nearly all subsequent Mesoamerican societies.

The most familiar aspect of the Olmecs is their artwork, particularly the aptly-named colossal heads.