They are magnificent, geometrically acute and mystifying. They are the stone spheres of Costa Rica, majestic objects patiently created by the indigenous ancestors to the boruca people who call the Osa region their home, precisely the districts of Cortes, Palmar and Sierpe in the province of Puntarenas. Just a few days ago, the Ministry of Culture in Costa Rica announced that Costa Rica’s beloved stone spheres now have their very own museum.
The Museum of the Stone Spheres is the first in situ (onsite) archeological museum of Costa Rica. On December 7th, the museum opened its doors to the public and has been very busy thus far. This museum, which also doubles as a learning center, is a welcome improvement that will help Finca 6, the most significant pre-Columbian stone sphere park in the world, become a World Heritage Site recognized by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Until recently, visitors looking for the glorious spheres were met by an open field measuring nearly 10 hectares and a number of signs giving them directions to the magical site where the stone giants are arranged in such a way that they are aligned with the zenithal path of the Sun over the Earth (meaning the passage of sunlight over the surface of our planet).
Since December 7th, visitors have been enjoying a welcome center that is filled with information about one of Costa Rica’s most special places. The new museum has been constructed following ancient architectural designs in the region; it is elevated on concrete pillars to avoid damage by flooding during the torrential green season.
Within 300 meters of museum space, visitors will find restrooms, a special exhibit space and plenty of knowledge about the stone spheres. The current exhibit, which is expected to remain long-term, focuses on the lifestyles of ancient people of Costa Rica who lived in the Diquis Delta as early as the year 800. Many objects such as sculptures, pottery and tools are also on display.
The Mystery Remains
Over the years, extensive research has been made on the origin and purpose of the stone spheres. It is clear that descendants from the Maya people who came south from the upper regions of Mesoamerica shaped the spheres. There is evidence of astronomical intent, but it is not conclusive.
As previously reported by the Costa Rica Star, the alignment of the stone spheres is certainly aesthetic and may have served as an agricultural calendar, but there is also the suggestion that:
[...] the spheres are thus aligned to calculate the zenithal projection of the Sun.
[…] our ancient astronomers [may have wanted] to [find] the point above an observer that is directly opposite the nadir on an imaginary sphere against which celestial bodies appear to be projected. This would mean that pre-Columbian ancestors in Costa Rica may have had a certain degree of knowledge about the spherical shapes of celestial bodies and their orbits.
The zenithal path of the Sun is equivalent to a solstice, something that those who aligned the stone spheres either knew about or suspected. To follow this idea, researchers [must] calculate the zenithal events of the Sun going back 1,500 years -taking into account any adjustments of the Earth axis.
If the above calculations do not sound complicated enough, consider the following: Corroboration of this mathematical hypothesis would also entail performing calculations on other sites in Costa Rica where stone sphere alignments have been observed.
To learn more about the stone spheres of Costa Rica, please take your time in reading our previous articles:
- Did the Bribri people of Costa Rica believe in the end of the world?
- Festival of the Stone Spheres: April 13, 14 and 15 in Osa, Palmar and Bahia Uvita
- The Alignment of the Sun with the Stone Spheres of Costa Rica: Magic or Astronomy?
- Tomb Raiders and Stone Spheres in Costa Rica: Archeology News
- Costa Rica: pre-Columbian stone spheres still a mystery