University of Texas at Austin Unveils Olmec Sculpture; Veracruz University's Gift Recognizes Latin American Programs

Event: The Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies (LLILAS) will unveil "El Rey," a full-scale stone reproduction of Olmec Colossal Head No. 1.

Raúl Arias, president of Universidad Veracruzana, will present the gift to William Powers Jr., president of The University of Texas at Austin, in recognition of the university's commitment to Latin American and Mexican studies.

U.S. News and World Report magazine ranks the university's Latin American history program No. 1 in its 2009 rankings of America's Best Graduate Schools.

When: 1 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 19

Where: Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection at the Sid Richardson Hall (SRH) breezeway. A campus map is available online.

Background: In contrast to a public image that identifies the Olmec (1500-400 BC) as merely an enigmatic people who sculpted colossal stone heads of unknown gods and carved exquisite jade figurines, scholarship recognizes Olmec culture as the foundation of civilization in Mesoamerica. The Olmec not only carved magnificent monolithic public monuments, but they also originated the first inter-Mesoamerican art style. Recent discoveries in the state of Veracruz, Mexico, strongly suggest the Olmec even may have independently invented a system of hieroglyphic writing around 1000 BC.

LLILAS will host the "Olmec: The Origins of Ancient Mexican Civilization" conference Nov. 20-21 at the ATandT Center Auditorium.

For more information, contact LLILAS at 512-232-2423.