Costa Rica finds first stone sphere in 14 years
The pre-Columbian artifact is located in the Southern Zone.
The National Museum of Costa Rica has confirmed the discovery of a pre-Columbian stone sphere. Located in the Finca 12 sector of Palmar Sur de Osa, the sphere is the first since 2007 to be found in its original site.
The bola de piedra measures 1.23 meters in diameter and is in “perfect condition,” the National Museum says. It was identified by farm workers who were preparing to build an internal road through private property.
“In the surroundings, a lot of fragmented ceramic material and some remains of stone tools were also found,” said archaeologist Francisco Corrales. “All of the above reflects the presence of an ancient indigenous settlement.”
Hundreds of stone spheres have been discovered in Costa Rica’s Southern Zone and on Caño Island. The vast majority were removed from their original locations, impacting further research1.
The National Museum has proposed that the new sphere be protected in situ — in its original place.
“The discovery of this sphere and the study of its context will offer information on the settlement and the role that the artifact may have had for the community,” Corrales said.
The stone spheres of Costa Rica are attributed to the Diquís indigenous culture. They predate Spanish colonialization, were typically made from large blocks of igneous rock, and demonstrate the complexity of pre-Columbian societies in Costa Rica.
Finca 6, the best-preserved archaeological site with stone spheres, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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The spheres were “discovered” in the 1930s when the United Fruit Company was clearing the jungle for banana plantations. United Fruit valued the dollar more than any cultural riches, so you can guess how that turned out for most of the spheres.
In case you can’t guess: They were bulldozed, taken home as souvenirs, or blown up in a fruitless (ha) attempt to find treasure hidden within.