All About Pre-Columbian Chiefdom Settlements With Stone Spheres Of The Diquís | Kidadl


All About Pre-Columbian Chiefdom Settlements With Stone Spheres Of The Diquís

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A number of mysterious stone spheres, found near the Diquís Delta in Costa Rica, have left archeologists scratching their heads for years.

No one is quite sure who made them or why. Some theories suggest that they were used as ceremonial items, to signify celestial objects, or simply as decoration!

So, what really is the purpose of these intriguing objects? Did they actually have any significance or use in cultural tradition or political systems, or were they merely for show? Let's take a look at the history of the Diquís Delta, and what these odd structures might possibly mean!


The stone spheres are found near the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica in the Diquís Delta, and they date back to before the arrival of Christopher Columbus. Some of the spheres weigh up to 15 tons (13 met ton) and it is a mystery as to the way they were made and why they are located in these specific areas. There are many theories about their use but no one knows for sure what their purpose was.

Some people believe that these stones were used as ceremonial objects or as markers for territory boundaries, while others think that they may have been used as part of an irrigation system. Archeologists have also theorized that the spheres may represent celestial bodies like planets, or may simply represent the different phases of the sun and moon. Whatever their purpose, these stone spheres are a fascinating reminder of Pre-Columbian cultures and traditions. If you're ever in Costa Rica, be sure to visit the Diquís Delta and see these amazing objects for yourself!

History And Cultural Significance

The Diquís Delta is located in southwestern Costa Rica, on the Pacific Ocean coast. It covers an alluvial plain of approximately 42 sq miles (110 sq km) and is bordered by the Terraba and Sierpe Rivers. The region contains a number of archaeological sites with stone spheres, some up to two meters in diameter. These spheres are thought to have been created by the tribal inhabitants of the area, and they remain a mystery to archaeologists today.

The stones were first discovered in the '30s when jungle land for banana plantations was being cleared by the United Fruit Company in the Diquis Delta area. Workmen, being unsure of the nature of the stone structures, shoved them away with bulldozers while clearing out the heavy vegetation. Once it was observed that they were almost perfectly spherical in shape, the workmen attempted to drill them and blast them apart with dynamite in hopes of finding gold hidden in them, courtesy of the ancient cultures who made them. A great number of the spheres were destroyed in this manner before local authorities, recognizing the significance of the spheres, got involved. The pieces were recovered and a few spheres were reconstructed, six of which are now displayed at the National Museum of Costa Rica, San Jose.

It wasn't until a few years later that any serious study of the spheres was undertaken. The archaeologist Doris Stone began excavating a number of sites in the Diquís Delta, during which she discovered that the spheres were actually made from a type of hard stone called granite. Stone also found that the balls had been carved with precision and were often placed atop pedestals or platforms. Many artificial mounds, burial sites, and paved areas were also found in the area, indicating the existence of social and political systems of an ancient culture.

The most famous site in Costa Rica containing stone spheres is called Finca Six. The largest ball at Finca Six weighs an estimated 16 tons (14.5 met ton), and is 6.5 ft (2 m) in diameter! The three other sites where the spheres are found in Costa Rice are El Silencio, Batambal, and Grijalba-2.

Researchers believe that the stone spheres were created by the Pre-Columbian chiefdom societies that inhabited the Diquís Delta region. These were complex, hierarchical societies with a strict social order. It is thought that the spheres and artificial mounds were used as symbols of power and status and that they were placed in strategic locations to mark boundaries or to show ownership of land. Dating of the spheres revealed that they were most probably made during the Aguas Buenas (300-800 CE) and the Chiriquí Period (800-1500 CE), meaning that the cultures that made them were most likely wiped out during the Spanish Conquest, which is why no trace of them remains today.

The sites of the spheres were inspected in 2010 by University of Kansas researcher John Hoopes, to determine whether the structures were eligible to be considered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After much discussion and research, the spheres were concluded to be of great historical importance, and were announced as a World Heritage Site in 2014.

The stone spheres of the Diquís in Costa Rica remain a mystery today. Archaeologists are still not sure how these balls were created, or why they were placed in certain locations. However, one thing is for sure: the stone spheres are a fascinating example of the Pre-Columbian cultures that once inhabited Central America.

The Pre-Columbian chiefdom settlements with stone spheres of the diquís were designated as a World Heritage Site in 2014.

Other Miscellaneous Facts

It was observed that the spheres are mostly made of gabbro, sandstone, and limestone. The stones seem to have been made by the smashing together of natural boulders into each other, which naturally polished them to some extent. After that, they were probably smoothened out into a spherical shape. Several unfinished balls have also been found quite a few miles away in the hills where the gabbro stone was obtained.

Many of the spheres have also ended up as possessions of the citizens of Costa Rica, who proudly display them as lawn ornaments. Since the initial purpose of the spheres seems to have been for decoration, this isn't really seen as unusual behavior.

The spheres are generally found in or near ancient settlements in Costa Rica, often with other artifacts such as pottery shards and stones used for grinding food. It is not known what the spheres were used for, but various theories have been put forward, including their use as settings for temples or graves, or as astronomical objects. Some people believe that they may have been created by extraterrestrials.

Despite their age and lack of clear purpose, the stone spheres remain an important part of the culture of Costa Rica. They have been designated a National Monument and are a popular tourist attraction. Visitors can view some of the spheres at two museums, the Museo Nacional de Costa Rica in San José and the Asociación Española de Amigos del País in Palmar Sur.


What were the ancient stone spheres used for in Pre-Columbian times?

The exact purpose of the spheres is unknown, however, it is theorized that they were either used to mark burial sites, used to portray celestial bodies or phases of the moon, or for ceremonial purposes. It is also quite possible that they were simply made for decoration.

Who made the Diquís spheres?

The spheres were made by ancient tribes that existed before Columbian times, which makes it likely that they were made by the ancestors of indigenous people who were present around the area during the time of the Spanish Conquest. The most-likely candidates are the Guaymi tribes and Boruca tribes.

How were the Diquís spheres made?

The Diquís spheres were most likely made by smashing together two boulders, which helped to create the spherical shape, after which they were smoothened down.

How old are the stone spheres of the Diquís?

The stone spheres have been dated back to being created between the years 800-1500 CE, making them hundreds of years old!

Where is the significance of the stone spheres of the Diquís?

The significance of these spheres remains unknown to date, though there are theories regarding what they might have signified for the people who made them. They could either be markers for burial sites or have had some ceremonial purpose.

When and why were the Pre-Columbian Chiefdom Settlements with stone spheres of the Diquís declared as a World Heritage Site?

The Pre-Columbian Chiefdom Settlements with stone spheres of the Diquís were declared a World Heritage Site in 2014, for their mysterious nature and extreme historical importance.

Where are the stone spheres in Costa Rica located?

The stone spheres in Costa Rica are spread across the Diquís Delta and on Isla del Caño.

Written By
Tanya Parkhi

<p>Tanya is a skilled content creator with a passion for writing and a love for exploring new cultures. With a degree in Economics from Fergusson College, Pune, India, Tanya worked on her writing skills by contributing to various editorials and publications. She has experience writing blogs, articles, and essays, covering a range of topics. Tanya's writing reflects her interest in travel and exploring local traditions. Her articles showcase her ability to engage readers and keep them interested.</p>

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