Wicke’s book aims to do three things: give a history of the discovery of Olmec art, describe some of the attempts to discover sequential order in Olmec stone monuments, and draw a conclusion about the region where Olmec art and culture originated.
The history of the Olmec discoveries is journalistic, brief, and incomplete. Oxtotitlan Cave and Olmec art at Tehuacán are among the omissions.
The attempts to discover sequential order in the stone monuments are themselves a monument to frustration. Guttman Scaling, used by Wicke, does not inspire confidence even in him, and the analysis is as sterile as have been previous similar exercises. Eventually a sequence for the monuments will emerge in conjunction with ceramic, tool and technical sequences. It is melancholy to see a young scholar beating these dead horses when more fruitful areas lie untouched.
Wicke’s conclusion that Olmec culture originated in the Mixteca Alta rests on one jade axe and one stone monument with a trapezoidal mouth, neither one scientifically excavated. Olmec studies are advancing rapidly and a mass of field work still awaits a more general treatment. Wicke seems to have the tools for that work, but is here treating the subject as it stood ten years ago.