Thank you for your informative article. I would like to ask your opinion on something. I realize that this is a gross oversimplification of process, but since life did start in Africa and then migrated to other places, and phenotypic traits are shared across skin tones, cultures, and ethnicities, didn’t the Olmecs ultimately evolve from a society that originated in Africa?
I get that the social construction of race as political status is a fairly recent invention, and that ideas of race applied to the ancient world are by their nature anachronistic. However, is there a reliable way of knowing whether Olmecs had lighter skin or darker skin? People across all continents have skin shade variation, and stone statues do not reveal skin color, neither do bones. I’m not sure anyone could conclusively argue for the ‘blackness’ of a cultural group (as race is a modern construction), but I don’t think you can argue against it either.