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The Olmecs: An African Presence in Early America

By Paul A. Barton

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:

Linguistic Similarities

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.

Religious Similarities

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 Were Related To Blacks Of The Mende Group Of West Africa

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; ), 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.

In retrospect, there is no doubt that the ancient Olmecs of Mexico and the Olmec language, religion, culture were of African origins and specifically of the Mende group of West Africa. Still it is sad that essays on the Olmecs are not presented in publications, when the African origins of this Mesoamerican civilization is presented, including the latest findings. There is hope, however that the most recent findings of the ancient Olmec calendar and the similarities in race, culture and language with Africans in West Africa will be brought out and made available to those who see an obvious African influence and presence in early

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The Black Race: Origin of All Humanity

by Runoko Rashidi

America: The oldest civilization known in the Americas was the Olmec, and it was of Black Africoid origin and flourished over a 5000 years period. This civilization existed in the Americas before the arrival of the red Indians. In fact, at the time of the Europeans arrival in Central and South America in the 15th century, descendants of the Black Olmecs were abounding throughout that region, particularly in Mexico. In this regard, the testimony of Nicolas Leon proves instructive on how ancient the African presence was in America. In fact, he says that Black people were the Original people of Mexico. "The almost extinction of the original Negroes during the time of the Spanish conquest and the memories of them in the most ancient traditions induce us to believe that the Negroes were the first inhabitants of Mexico." (Historia"”General De Mexico, Mexico, 1919).

Riva-Palacio, a Mexican scholar stresses this point: "It is indisputable that in very ancient times the Mexicans recall a Negro god, Ixlilton, which means black – face." The Black Olmec Africoids were ethnologically connected to Africa's Nile Valley Civilization (Dr. Diop, Nations, Negres et Culture, p. 116, Presence Africaine, Paris, 1955). Moreover, in 1492 when Christopher Columbus was approaching the shores of the Americas, his Chief Navigator was a Black Moor from Mauritania name Don Pietro Olonzo Nino, Captain of the Flag ship"”Maria, who logged in his diary as their ships approached the shores of the Americas, seeing Black Africans on land, as well as some sailing in large canoes leaving the shores of the Americas, heading out to sea in the direction towards the African Continent (John Jackson, Man, God, and Civilization, p. 286). Descendants of the Olmecs who were living in America at the time Columbus arrived were the Black Wasschitaw of Mississippi, Black Mojave of California and the Jamassee of Georgia.
That is really interesting. I am in Mexico right now and have learned a little about the mesoamerican tribes. Heard a lot about how little scientist know about the Olmecs but definitly nothing about them being black. The Olmecs had this tendency of carving large heads out of rock, and I remember when I saw some of them at the musem a couple of weeks ago thinking "Hum, that looks like a black man." Go figure.

"To be conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage" -James Baldwin
Just a little general information. "Olmec" was'nt the name of the of the people, "olmec" was the name given to them by the archeologist that discoverd the intial artifacts in the rainforest. Through linquistics, it has been determined that they were in fact called the "Xi(she)people". Teracotta figurines of the Xi with dreads, afros, braids as well as cornrolls and mohawks or "mandinkas" have also been found in Hati and Costa Rica. Interestingly enough, some of the these statues and figurines were found with distinctive west african hair styles, while other statues were found with the "7 braid" hair style found in ethiopia and disk shape ear plugs that can be found from east to west Africa, but is believed to have originated in the Khemet/Nubia valley. In addition, to the spainish conquest, the spainish referred to them as " slaves of our lord," for the fact that many had been taken captive and sent to to spain. In 2002 the Los Angeles times published an article on these "new finds" (that to no ones surprise I'm sure) failed to acknowledge Dr. Van Sertima or his 1979 book.

Then I heard another voice say:"come out of her,my people,so that you will not share her sins,so that you will not receive her plagues, for her sins have piled up to heaven and YAH has remembered her crimes,give her back as much as she has given;pay her back double what she has done. Mix her a double portion from her own cup. Give her as much torture and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself."(Revelations 18:4-7)

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