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January Talk

At our first meeting of the new year we welcomed member Thorold Masefield whose talk entitled Gods not Slaves postulated that all central American civilisations derive from a western misadventure.


The Olmec civilisation was the first great culture to arise in Mexico and Central America and flourished from 1500 BCE to about 400 BCE. Stone carvings of large human heads are one of the few remains of the Olmec culture. These depict facial features more akin to West Africans than South Americans. It is postulated that Nigerian fishermen were inadvertently carried across the Atlantic during a severe storm by ocean currents and eventually settled in the coastal area of the present day Mexican states of Veracruz and Tabasco. 


The local population had migrated over the land bridge from Siberia and Alaska. Dependent upon slash and burn agriculture their diet was primarily maize, beans and squash resulting in malnourishment and a diminutive stature. The West African fishermen had a healthy protein based diet and were physically much larger. As they integrated with the locals they taught the benefits of alluvial farming and fishing and established cities in coastal areas. They also introduced metalworking skills, writing, and a structured society with domestic animals. The resulting Olmec civilisation was a society of talented artists and sculptors, architects and engineers, and traders. They also established religion and worships gods. 


The Olmec are considered to be the mother culture of Mesoamerica. Later cultures, such as the Mayans and Aztecs, borrowed from the Olmec and continued to worship their gods. Interestingly, the Olmec art of carved colossal heads was not adopted by later cultures. It is suggested that these carved heads depict the original West African fishermen who became revered as gods. 

Could this be true? It has been established that 30 million years ago monkeys rafted across the Atlantic to South America on mats of vegetation and earth. The Nok culture of northern Nigeria was established around this time. It has similar, but smaller, sculptures depicting only heads. Linguists also suggest that the Olmec and African languages have a similar pattern and structure. Research into the origins of the Olmec civilisation continues.

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