Still another hypothesis suggests that the word is derived from Mēctli, the goddess of maguey. This led to the use of the variant Méjico in many publications in Spanish, most notably in Spain, whereas in Mexico and most other Spanish–speaking countries México was the preferred spelling.
Olmec cultural traits diffused through Mexico into other formative-era cultures in Chiapas, Oaxaca and the Valley of Mexico.
The formative period saw the spread of distinct religious and symbolic traditions, as well as artistic and architectural complexes.
In the subsequent formative eras, maize cultivation and cultural traits such as a mythological and religious complex, and a vigesimal numeric system, were diffused from the Mexican cultures to the rest of the Mesoamerican culture area.
In this period, villages became more dense in terms of population, becoming socially stratified with an artisan class, and developing into chiefdoms.
The formative-era of Mesoamerica is considered one of the six independent cradles of civilization.