Costa Rica is home to 3 World Heritage sites in the Natural category:
- Area de Conservación Guanacaste (1999)
- Cocos Island National Park (1997)
- Talamanca Range-La Amistad Reserves / La Amistad National Park (1983)
And now, in 2014, Costa Rica can boast a new World Heritage Site in the Cultural Category.
Pre-Columbian Chiefdom Settlements with Stone Spheres of the Diquís (2014)
All because Costa Rica has big balls.
The 4 sites that make up the new World Heritage Site are in Palmar Sur, a town in the Diquís Delta in the southern portion of Costa Rica. The sites are the remnants of the extinct Diquís culture and are named: Finca 6 (Farm 6), Batambal, El Silencio and Grijalba-2.
They date from 500 – 1500 CE.
The excavations center around the Finca 6 site and this location is where the new Sphere Museum is located (I would love to place a link to the new Muesuem but apparently there is not a website – but the museum does exist – I have been there. Really.)
The site was once one of the farms in United Fruit Company’s banana plantation. As the fields were being prepared for banana planting, in the 1930’s, the workers started coming across these stone spheres. Not wanting to delay their work, and not understanding the significance of the stones they were coming across, the workers just moved the stones out of the way.
It was only years later when a scientist got involved. In 1943 Doris Stone, the daughter of a United Fruit Executive, published an article about the spheres and the article received recognition from an archeologist at Harvard University.
Whenever archeologists discover something complex like these simple stone spheres everyone wants to know what they were used for and how they were made.
To come up with my theory of what the balls were used for I use Occam’s Razor – the problem solving principle that states that among competing hypothesis, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected. It should go without saying then, that my theory that the Diquís just got called away in the middle of a game, of an ancient version, of Bocce Ball and never came back – should be selected.
But the archeologists want to make it more difficult. They say that the balls that weren’t moved by farm workers show a pattern that might align with celestial events. They also found spheres outside the ruins of homes, the balls being elevated on a platform indicating they were an honored decoration. It also appears that the bigger the balls you had the higher your stature in the culture.
The Stone Spheres of the Diquís are no where near as complex as say: the pyramids (Egyptian or Mayan or Aztecan), the statues on Easter Island, or even Stonehenge – but because the exact method of fabrication isn’t known, we must conclude that they were created in either one of two ways: either aliens were involved in fashioning the balls, or they rolled up the river from Atlantis – the water having a smoothing effect on the sphere’s surface, you know.
Some nut jobs have suggested that the Diquís fashioned the almost-but-not-quite perfectly round ball out of gabbro (hardend, privously molten, magma) using just a stone to chisel rock into its ball shape form. They even point to chisel marks left on some the rocks as “Evidence.”
Regardless of how they were formed or their purpose (Bocce Ball), the Spheres of Costa Rica and the Museum at Finca 6 are a must see.
If you don’t like the way I handled the subject here are some other blog posts written about the big balls: Costa Rica Chica’s article on the spheres (I think she is hot), and then there are those crazy UFO debunkers, and finally a more serious look, really, at the Spheres from a website that even has the word science in the domain name.
Until the next time I write something,