The Mystery of the Stone Spheres Of Costa Rica

The stone spheres of Costa Rica.
The stone spheres of Costa Rica.

The stone spheres of Costa Rica refer to a collection of over 300 petrospheres in Costa Rica, located on Isla del Cano. Locally, the stone spheres are called as Las Bolas and are well-known stone carvings from the Isthmo-Colombia era. They are thought to have been built in lines leading to the house of chiefs, but their certain purpose remains unclear. The sphere stones are part of the Precolumbian Chiefdom Settlements of the Diquis that were added to the UNESCO’S World Heritage List.

Description Of The Sphere Stones

The sphere stones were discovered by the United Fruit Company’s workers who were clearing a new site for a banana plantation. The stones discovered ranged in size from a few inches in diameter to huge sphere stones. The smallest sphere stone is about 6.6 feet while the largest stone weighs about 16 tons. The scientific study and the description of the sphere stones began in the late 1930s. The first scholarly writing about the stone balls first appeared in 1943.

The stones appear to be extremely smooth and almost perfectly round and are likely to have been hand-made by the ancient people of the Diquis Valley. Most of the stone spheres are sculptured from gabbro which is a very hard igneous rock similar to basalt. Some of the sphere stones are also made from limestone while a dozen are made from sand. The stones appear to have been made from large boulders that were somehow round and were carefully shaped using smaller rocks. Some portions of the rocks may also have been heated then cooled rapidly in order to remove the outer rock layers. The rocks may have been polished using sand. However, the degree of finishing and style of work varies considerably. The Gabbro used in making the sphere stones came from the hills where unfinished spheres can be found.

The Site’s Geographic Location

The Palma Sur archeological site is located in the southern part of Costa Rica known as Diquis Delta. The delta is in the southernmost part of the province of Puntarenas and is defined as an alluvial plain with geographical boundaries of the Fila Grisera, Pacific Ocean, and Osa Mountains. The sites for the sphere stones is located within the Palmar Sur on an approximately 10 hectares of land that was previously owned by United Fruit Company. The archeological site has been dated to approximately 300-800 BC. It was a multifunctional site that had settlements and a cemetery. Several sphere stones are found in multiple locations within the site. The site is also a storage location for spheres that were removed from the original location before later being returned to the national museum.

Myths Related To Costa Rica's Stone Spheres

Many wonder about the purpose of the stone spheres' existence. Although nobody is certain, a few myths have been put forward as to how the stones came to be. Some people believe that the stones were used as compasses or are associated with the astronomical occurrences. Some legends state that the stones came from the lost continent of Atlantis while others state that the local inhabitants had a portion that was able to soften the rocks. Other people think that the stones were used as grave markers or used for marking the property of ancient leaders.


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