Mesoamerica is one of several cradles of civilisation in the world. In this book, Robert M. Rosenswig proposes that we understand Early Formative Mesoamerica as an archipelago of complex societies that interacted with one another over long distances and that were separated by less sedentary peoples. These early 'islands' of culture shared an Olmec artistic aesthetic, beginning approximately 1250 BCE (uncalibrated), that first defined Mesoamerica as a culture area. Rosenswig frames the Olmec world from the perspective of the Soconusco area on Pacifica Chiapas and Guatemala. The disagreements about Early Formative society that have raged over the past 30 years focus on the nature of inter-regional interaction between San Lorenzo and other Early Formative regions. He evaluates these debates from a fresh theoretical perspective and integrates new data into an assessment of Soconusco society before, during, and after the apogee of the San Lorenzo polity.