Cantón Corralito, known for its occupancy by the Mokaya people for centuries, a culture with its own intriguing traditions and styles, yet, contains an abundance of Olmec-style objects, however many other significant locations throughout Mesoamerica contain Olmec style influences.
One of the most significant sites of the Olmecs is its place of origin, San Lorenzo. This site can be called Mesoamerica’s first complex society, first large ritual and political center between 1400 and 1000 BC. According to “Early Olmec Obsidian Trade and Economic Organization at San Lorenzo” researched by the American Psychological Association, claims “San Lorenzo’s growth as a prominent center included the development of long distance trade relationships with adjacent areas of Guatemala and highland Mexico.” San Lorenzo’s urban center is over 1,000 acres, supported a few thousand people, and within this region over 800 obsidian artifacts were discovered. The American Psychological Association, through chemical analysis, have claimed these artifacts to range from Mexico to Guatemala, creating the largest exchange network of obsidian and trade in Mesoamerica. Other signatures that point out that the Olmecs created a complex and political society at San Lorenzo thus spreading was in the form of art. San Lorenzo is also most famous for the discovery of its colossal heads and stone altars, these types of artifacts were not only done by professionals, but was done through extensive labor and organization.
Olmec art styles flourished throughout Mesoamerica. Styles including anthropomorphic figurines, and artifacts decorated with metaphysical religious themes and supernatural creatures such as bird-serpents and crocodiles. Olmec artifacts discovered consisted of sculptures, figurines, stone stelae, and stone altars, some of which were polished to a shine. Some of these artifacts were carved from jade and serpentine which required great skill to acquire. These artifacts and Olmec art styles not only flourished in San Lorenzo but some objects are also found at sites hundreds of miles away. Researchers agree that the Olmecs began in Mexico’s southern Gulf Coast then their influence spread as far as modern Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, Costa Rica and El Salvador. Olmec art was not only advanced for its time but it was also done through great engineering. According to M.D Lemonick and A. Dorfman, in “Mystery of the Olmec” claim that the Olmecs predetermined each site accordingly. Plans that included a reflection of both the Olmecs beliefs and through a knowledge of engineering. For example, mounds discovered at La Venta which are aligned eight degrees west of north, this was not the only astonishing creation left behind by the Olmecs.
Another elaborate form of Olmec art which leaves researched baffled today, are the large 40-ton carved stones, known as Colossal Heads. Each stone are likely portraits of the Olmec kings who ruled from intricate shape palaces at San Lorenzo and La Venta. What is so remarkable about these Colossal Heads is geologists have examined the region these stones were found in and agree that no igneous rock from which these monuments were carved from exists at any point closer to the site than 80 miles. Now, questions linger as to how exactly did the Olmecs move these large monuments from miles across Mesoamerica crossing long rivers and at the top of highlands in San Lorenzo close to 150 feet high, which depict the Olmecs as artistic and engineers (Lemonick and Dorfman 56). The Olmecs laid down the platform for the civilizations that followed thousands of years afterwards, including the Mayas and the Aztecs.