On the popular blockbuster “Riders of the Lost Ark“(1981), the protagonist of the film Indiana Jones follows him with a huge stone ball ready to be torn to pieces … With this note, director Steven Spielberg pays homage to the mysterious stone spheres of Costa Rica. These unusual, perfectly shiny spheres were discovered in the Dikwis Valley in the south of the country.
“Indiana Jones” was followed by “Stone Spear” in the film “Riders of the Last Ark” by Steven Spielberg (1981). Credit: Paramount / Lucas Film
As with other parts of the continent, this laboratory art does not stop at the discovery of major Mayan cities and the Atlantic architecture of Mexico, Guatemala or the great civilizations. The discovery of Costa Rica’s enigmatic meteorites has added to this attraction since its first discovery in the 1930s, captivating the public imagination and the imagination of pre – Columbian archaeologists.
Congratulations to archaeologist Francisco Corrells U for the discovery of the second stone sphere at Finka 12 in the Diques delta of southern Costa Rica. ⁇ pic.twitter.com/yQws0Itl8n
– John Hoops (KUHoopes) December 16, 2021
However, at the end of 2021, new models were discovered by Francisco Correls Ulova, former director of the National Museum of Costa Rica (MNCR), one of the best experts on these questions. They have completed an extraordinary collection of nearly 300 “Petrospheres” – their known name – which have been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2014.
Most of these “BallsThe United Fruit Company (UFCO), an American company (local name) founded during the exploitation of banana plantations in Costa Rica in the 1930s, was in fact destroying and deforesting thousands of hectares. Great Terraba And Rio Searp, as well as the small island of Canoe on Drake Bay. In the early part of the 20th century, Doris Gemmure Stone (meaning “stone” in English) – the daughter of one of UFCO’s key partners – aptly named Doris Gemmure Stone – immediately attempted to explore these archaeological remains. We are indebted to him for the first article about these works published in the journal Science American antiquity, In 1943.
Land clearing in the 1940s and the extraction of pre-Columbian stone spheres: Thomas Dunn / American Antiquity
Rock blocks Already naturally spherical
The pre-Columbian people of the region formed large sites lined with these massive stones. They are often associated with small sculptures of human and animal figures. All of these are formed from volcanic rocks (of volcanic origin) typical of the region, such as anthracite. Craftsmen of the time already went in search of naturally spherical blocks – the rocks in the balls were formed by erosion.
A type of source rock that was preferred by the ancient peoples of the Diquis Valley, transformed into perfect spheres. Quebrada Cansot site. Credit: UNESCO
In the absence of metal tools, they used stone tools to cut and polish these megalithic spheres, which vary in diameter from a few centimeters to 2.57 m in diameter. After heating the surface membranes and exploding, the long glaze was able to achieve these perfect orbs, the desired shape of which may have been connected to the cosmological and symbolic universe of this ancient population of Costa Rica.
Stone sphere and access collapse for the artificial site found at the “Finca 6” site in Costa Rica. Credit: UNESCO
An invention that could change the game
How old are these remains? Until then it is difficult to say because almost all the spheres have migrated from their origins and are therefore isolated from any archaeological context. Estimates of their formation date back to BC. 200/500 to 1500 AD or during the Spanish occupation of Central America. But drilling In place The last stone spheres of Francisco Corrales Ulloa on Finca 12 site may be game-changer!
If traces of carbon or organic matter are found near these blocks, they make it possible for new radiocarbon dating. Another novelty of interest to researchers: the discovery of a temporary collection of statues attached to these spheres. If the cultural and symbolic significance of these works is not yet well understood, the aboriginal peoples of the Ray Carrey region still live in pre-Columbian artificial sites, which have retaining walls made of river pebbles associated with stone spheres.