By Barbara and Justin Kerr

2000 BC to 300 AD
This is the time of the Olmec civilization. Although this is a culture that reached great heights of artistry in ceramic, stone, and jade sculpture, we have no written or pictorial record of how they lived or what they ate. We only find the remains of vessels and artifacts and amazing portraits of this enigmatic people. A later story, called the Popol Vuh, tells of the exploits of the Hero Twins and the assorted supernaturals and gods who inhabit the Otherworld. It is possible that the cacao pod played a seminal role in this creation story, as it may have represented the head of the Father of the Hero Twins and their half-brothers, the monkeys, who were known as scribes.
Olmec portrait.
© Justin Kerr
The Head in the Tree Photograph © Justin Kerr Monkey with cacao pod
Photograph © Justin Kerr
Courtesy of Mars, Incorporated