Costa Rica's Mystery
Spheres Go Home
By Christie Pashby
Tico Times Staff
A truckload of Costa Rica's most important archeological artifacts made their way home this week.
Officials from the National Museum moved eight ancient indigenous stone spheres from the San JosÈ area to the Osa Peninsula, close to the site where they were originally found in 1940.
While creating a large banana plantation in the Diquis Delta area, workers stumbled upon rows of carefully placed spheres of perfect roundness. More were found on Isla del CaÒo. They are considered Costa Rica's most significant pre-Columbian relics.
The mysterious spheres, some of which are the size of an orange while others are over two meters in diameter, were constructed by indigenous groups in approximately 800 AD. They can weigh as much as 16 tons. At least 500 spheres of varying sizes have so far been found.
Archeologists still can't come up with a clear explanation for the spherical accuracy of the giant spheres, or their possible use. Some geologists believe a volcano spat globs of magma into the air, which cooled into spheres. Others believe they were made with stone tools.
Researcher Ivan Zapp, in his book, "Atlantis in Costa Rica," the spheres may have been navigational markers used by a highly developed seafaring culture (TT, July 3 '98).
The artifacts were welcomed home by Osa residents during a ceremony at the Central Park in the southern town of Palmar Sur on Monday. Twenty years ago, locals blocked the streets of their community in an attempt to keep the spheres from being removed, and were thrilled to see them returned.
The relocation is part of the "Community, Archeology and Environment in Osa" project, which is dedicated to promoting the southern regions of Costa Rica as a tourist destination.
For decades, the spheres have been used as decoration outside many public institutions in San JosÈ and in private homes. More spheres are expected to be repatriated in the coming months.