Besides the impressive appearance and size of these ancient city layouts, one of the great mysteries that surrounds them has to do with their configuration and alignment. The Olmec created what is generally considered to be the first pyramid in what is now Central America. The buildings at the La Venta city are laid out in a very neat grid.
Also, this grid follows a rather precise north to south alignment. Why this was done specifically is a mystery lost to the sands of time. However, it is quite common among ancient civilizations. For example, the ancient Egyptians aligns their great pyramids with astronomical bodies and directional poles.
What is now called San Lorenzo represents one of the most essential archaeological sites in Mesoamerica. This sprawling city represents much of what people today know about how the Olmec lived and what they valued. The city itself laid approximately 38 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico. While this may seem like it is too far removed from the source of undoubtedly much of their food and potential coastline trade routes, the city had something much more important: fresh water.