Olmec mythology forms the basis of the belief system followed by the Olmec civilization who occupied most of southern Mexico and Central America. They are considered to be one of the oldest civilizations in the region and has remnants still standing today. Being among the first civilizations in the region, they laid the foundations for most of the cultures and mythologies that followed and are easily identifiable with the world famous colossal heads found all across their former territory.
The Olmec were instrumental in introducing practices like ritual bloodletting, human sacrifice consumption of chocolate and the deadly ballgame through the Olmec Mythology. They are also attributed to have been the ones that invented a writing system that the Mayans later adopted along with the long count calendar. This however cannot be proved as unlike the Maya and Aztec mythologies, there is no evidence of any surviving written records which can be used to confirm these findings.
Due to the lack of archaeological evidence we do not know what the Olmecs called themselves and have to rely on the Aztec word for them which literally meant rubber people. They however did codify and record their mythology and beliefs using a system of symbols and drawings. This points to the presence of a complex mythology including an extended pantheon of Gods and a priest of shaman. There are indications of rituals like sacrifice, cave based rituals a, pilgrimages, offerings to the Gods and a surprising fascination for mirrors.
We do not know the exact names of the Gods in Olmec Mythology so many were given numbers rather than names by archaeologists. Most of the Gods were associated with natural phenomenon like earth, sun, wind etc. with a special affiliation for apex predators like jaguars, sharks, eagles and caimans.
The decline of Olmec civilization has not been fully explained, though environmental changes, possibly involving nearby volcanic activity, are likely to blame. Following their decline remaining Olmec population is likely to have lived in smaller communities in the area, or integrated with neighbouring civilizations.