Freedom8 Mesoamerica


San Lorenzo is an Olmec period site located in the state of Veracruz, Mexico. San Lorenzo is the name of the central place in the larger San Lorenzo Tenochtitlan archaeological region. It is located on a steep plateau above where the Coatzacoalcos and Chiquito rivers meet and close both to lowland forest and resource rich highlands overlooking the fertile floodplain.
The site was first settled in the second millennium BC where about 1,000 people resided. Temples, plazas, roadways and kingly residences are included in its heyday between 1200-900 BC. Its people established trading links with sites in Oaxaca, Guerrero and highland Mexico, and Olmec influence spread far and wide.
Ten colossal stone heads representing heads of past and present rulers have been found at San Lorenzo. Evidence suggests that these heads were plastered and painted in bright colors. They were arranged in ensembles and set in a plaza paved with red sand and yellow gravel. Sarcophagus-shaped thrones linked living kings with their ancestors.
A royal processional aligned to the north-south axis of the plateau led the way to the center. At the center of the site are two palaces: the San Lorenzo Red Palace and the Stirling Acropolis. The Red Palace was a royal residence with a platform substructure, red floors, basalt roof support, steps and drain. The Stirling Acropolis may have been the sacred residence, and is surrounded by a pyramid, E-group and a ballcourt.

Between 900 and 700 B.C., the era of San Lorenzo came to an end: the Olmec monuments were attacked, defaced and buried. However, the centre was not abandoned until 400 B.C..