This report on two brief seasons of excavations at La Venta seems to have been doomed from the outset to the hopper of the sort of mill that, whether or not it grinds fine, certainly grinds exceeding slow. This was unfortunate, for when the field work was being done, there was considerable interest in the Olmec problem, and a more timely appearance of the report would have been desirable. However, the attack on Pearl Harbor, which interrupted many crucial things, reduced the first season's program drastically, and then separated me from field notes and sherd and jade collections for some 3 years. After the war, in between other tasks, I was able to work on the report. Finally it was nearly done, and I found myself about to go back on active duty. Just 3 years ago, I hastily checked through the rough manuscript, with a thick sheaf of notes and sketches about the illustrations and figures, and dumped the whole hodgepodge into the hands of the Bureau of American Ethnology's editor, Miss M. Helen Palmer. While I luxuriated on Micronesia's coral strands and blue lagoons, Miss Palmer pulled the report together. I am offering her my thanks here. The readers of this report should thank her, too, for giving it such readability as it may have, and for editing out my grammatical lapses. The reader and I owe her thanks also for seeing the art work through, a particularly rugged chore when the author is as out of reach as I was.
Drs. Shepard and Wedel have made signal contributions to the present report, and I am indebted to them. It will be the reader's responsibility, however, to integrate the results of their sections with those I wrote, for I have seen their final versions only in the galley proofs, which made it too late for me to make any major revisions. The report will be improved if the conclusions of Miss Shepard's "Appendix" and Wedel's chapter are tied in with the rest, but the reader will have to undertake that task, blaming me and not my colleagues for the added burden.
It is also a matter of some embarrassment that I have not been able to take into account the various major contributions to our knowledge of Mesoamerican prehistory that have appeared in the 3 years since I submitted the manuscript. The results of such studies as Smith's Uaxactun report, Miss Proskouriakoffs analysis of Mayan sculpture, and Garcia Payón's researches in the archeology of central Veracruz,