A Head of the Game
One of the great mysteries and archaeological wonders of Ancient Mexico is the colossal stone heads carved out of volcanic stone by the Olmec, who ruled the southern Gulf region of Mexico between 1,500-400 BC. The Olmec Civilization was located roughly in the modern states of Veracruz and Tabasco, although their artistic and religious influences were so pervasive in Mesoamerica that the Olmec have been dubbed the "Mother Culture" by many anthropologists. There are a handful of museums and archaeological sites in Mexico displaying the colossal heads and other megalithic Olmec stone carvings, but the largest collection of Olmec art is located in Xalapa, Veracruz at the Museo de Antropologia de Xalapa. Next to the Museo Nacional de Antropologia y Historia in Mexico City, the anthropological museum in Xalapa is the second best museum in the country for ancient Mexican culture. The primary draw is obviously the giant basalt heads, which are now believed to represent the heads of ball players adorned with religious symbols as the ancient ballgame was as much a religious event as it was entertainment. In addition to Olmec heads, there is a wealth of regional artifacts on display produced by subsequent Gulf Coast cultures, such as the Huastecs and Totanacs, who are famous for constructing the mighty city El Tajin and creating the awe inspiring Danza de los Voladores. The museum portrays the uniqueness of the Gulf culture within the shared history and identity of Mexico.
Museo de Antropología, Lomas de San Roque, Xalapa Enríquez, Ver., Mexico