Africanized Maya, Olmecs and Classical Maya

Controversy surrounds the appearance and racial origin of the Olmec people. The evidence shows that they were Africans.

Here we see classical Mayan. Look at the distinctive facial characteristic especially the nose and lips these features are not analogous to the contemporary Mayan pictured below.

This contemporary Mayan lacks the distinctive nose associated with classical Mayan works of art.


This Olmec head on the otherhand is clearly that of an African in no way does it resemble the Classical Mayan type. Below we see the African type.

Finally, some researchers claim that the Olmecs were Amerindians, this is false. As you can see above this picture of a classical Mayan in no way resembles the "puffy" face features of the Olmec people who had clearly defined African features. Many contemporary Mayans may appear to have African features as a result of the mating of Africans and Mayans after slavery was introduced to the New World.

Researchers have found that some Mayan people have genetic markers, which point to African ancestors. For example:

Underhill, et al noted that:" One Mayan male, previously [has been] shown to have an African Y chromosome." - Underhill, et al (1996) " A pre-Columbian Y chromosome specific transition with its implications for human evolutionary history", Proc. Natl. Acad. Science USA, Vol.93, pp.196-200.

Paul Manansala has observed that:

Mestizos in Mayan or nearby areas show significant African admixture.

The East Coast had extensive admixture according to a recent study by

Lisker et al. ("Genetic Structure in Mesoamerica," _Human Biology_,

June 1996). The following percentages of African ancestry were found

among East coast populations:


Paraiso - 21.7%

El Carmen - 28.4%

Veracruz - 25.6%

Saladero - 30.2%

Tamiahua - 40.5%


Among Indian groups, the Chontal have 5% and the Cora .8% African

admixture. According to Crawford et al., the mestizo population

of Saltillo has 15.8% African ancestry, while Tlaxcala has 8% and

Cuanalan 18.1%.

The Olmecs built their civilization in the region of the current states of Veracruz and Tabasco. Now here again are the percentages of African ancestry according to Lisker et al.:

Paraiso - 21.7%

El Carmen - 28.4%

Veracruz - 25.6%

Saladero - 30.2%

Tamiahua - 40.5%

Paraiso is in Tabasco and Veracruz is, of course, in the state of Veracruz. Tamiahua is in northern Veracruz. [These areas were the first places in Mexico settled by the Olmecs.] I'm not sure about Saladero and El Carmen.


The mixed Mayans were often called Zambos. They share many features with the young Mayan pictured above.

Dr. Clyde A. Winters

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