La Venta offers the Colossal Head improvement, which can be a good source of Faith and Tourism, especially for civilizations that like to settle in Woods or Rainforest. This civilization has good synergy with Brazil, the Māori, and Vietnam, all civilizations who are incentivized to preserve these natural features. Vietnam's civilization ability even allows Colossal Heads to gain adjacency bonuses from tiles improved with districts, as long as they are not built on Marsh.
When the Spanish explorers stumbled over the ruins of ancient Olmec (the “mother-culture” of Mesoamerica) cities, they gave them Spanish names, as they did at La Venta. The original Olmec city, “San Lorenzo,” was abandoned c. 900 BC and La Venta rose to prominence in the region. La Venta itself would be abandoned c. 400 BC, but in the intervening five centuries it was the heart of Olmec culture, art and religion. Unlike most Mesoamerican cities, there was little stone nearby, so the settlement was mostly built of clay and fill dirt.
Located on a two-square-mile island in the midst of a coastal swamp overlooking the outlet of the Rio Palma, La Venta was hardly a pleasant spot. But it was holy, with some spectacular displays of engineering and wealth. The Great Pyramid there was, at the time, the largest structure in the Americas; even after 2500 years of erosion, it rises 34 meters above the flat island.
Numerous monuments and sculptures adorn the complex, with burial tombs and altars having also been discovered. Of the iconic "Colossal Heads" carved by the Olmec, La Venta features four of the most famous. Weighing several tons each, archeologists still marvel at how the Olmec managed to acquire the stone for these massive carvings.
And wealth … opulent offerings have been found through the site by archeologists excavating: 1000 tons of polished serpentine blocks, extensive mosaics, and 48 deposits of jade, pottery, figurines and hematite mirrors. And the skeletal remains of slaves, lots of them, along with devices that appear to be for bloodletting (ceremonial spikes and such), leading to speculation concerning human sacrifice for religious purposes.
But it's unlikely history will ever know for certain, for much of La Venta has been leveled in the name of progress. For instance, the entire southern end of the island is covered with a petroleum refinery. And in 2009 a number of the heads were damaged by a group attempting to perform a supposed pre-Columbian religious ritual.
- La Venta's city-state symbol is based on one of their famous colossal heads.
|Civilization VI City-states |
|1 Requires DLC|