La venta


La Venta, as this archeological zone is known, is located in the extreme northwest of Tabasco, in the municipality of Huimanguillo, near the Gulf of Mexico in the marshy region that forms the Tonalá River.

It was one of the main centers of the Olmec civilization, whose name means "those who inhabit the earth of rubber" and this place is recognized as the first city with an architectural outline defined throughout the American continent.

The Olmec culture is considered "the mother of the culture of Mesoamerica" ​​with an antiquity that is calculated from 1500 to 100 years a. and. c. Among his exceptional contributions are the construction of the first ceremonial buildings, according to a well-defined plan; the social structure, capable of organizing great works; a first and well-defined artistic style in both monuments and small pieces, as well as contributions to writing and scheduling.

In this archaeological zone more than 170 Olmec monuments have been found. The three major centers of this culture are San Lorenzo, La Venta and Laguna de los Cerros.

La Venta was a civic-ceremonial and residential center, it is estimated that it had a population of at least 1,800 people; leaders, priests, merchants, artisans and peasants lived their day to day as in any city today.

Agriculture was one of its greatest riches. The swampy environment and the periodic floods made their lands so fertile that they were able to collect up to three harvests per year! However, it was not their only activity, fishing and hunting combined to provide a varied and self-sufficient sustenance.

Historically it is considered that its apogee took place between 900 and 400 a. and. c.

As mentioned earlier, the layout of the city was planned and executed accordingly, it is no coincidence that most of the buildings had the same orientation and order along the north-south axis. They were constituted by platforms constructed with the accumulation of enormous quantities of different types of earth, clays and sands, and on these the ones elaborated with perishable material like: walls of bajareque and roofs of palm were erected.

In the center of the island, in general, a pyramidal building can be described; platforms of approximately 300 meters long, the Acropolis and small housing platforms.
One of the distinctive elements of La Venta is the presence of the already famous "Olmec heads". It is thought that they were carved in 700 a. and. c., but possibly date from 850 a. and. c. A mystery that has not been solved is how the Olmecs moved the colossal rocks they used to carve them; considering that the main basalt mine is located on Cerro Cintepec in the mountains of Tuxtla, 80 km away!

Of the altars that there are throughout the ancient city, also carved in rock and considered to be thrones that the Olmecs used in ceremonies and rituals very important highlights the so-called "altar number four" where you can see the figure of a shaman dressed in clothing very elaborate, sitting inside what looks like a cave.

During the nineteenth and twentieth century, the discovery and subsequent exploitation of oil fields in the Gulf of Mexico threatened the area.
Something curious and that few comment is that the Olmec can be considered the "first oil". They used the chapopote to seal aqueducts and boats; they also processed it to use it in barter or save it for when they needed it.

At the moment this one is an archaeological zone under the protection of the National Institute of Anthropology and History, and that you can visit to admire the vestiges of a pioneering town. The original pieces that were moved to Villahermosa were replaced by exact copies, so you should not worry about losing anything in your visit.

La venta

Admire the architectural beauty of La venta

La Venta

Learn more about La venta’s history with this audio guide


Share this page

More about Tabasco

more Archaeological Sites

We want you with us

Subribe to our newsletter and discovery Mexico with us