Diquís Delta Precolumbian Chiefdom settlements 🇨🇷 COSTA RICA

Located in the Diquís Delta in southern Costa Rica these Chiefdom settlements  illustrate a collection of unique stone spheres  of the Precolumbian period. The four sites represent different settlement structures of chiefdom societies (500-1500 CE) containing artificial mounds, paved areas and burial sites. Diquís stone spheres, which are rare in their perfection of large-sized (up to 2.57m diameter) spherical structures .

Diquís Delta

Stone Spheres of the Diquís illustrate the physical evidence of the complex political, social and productive structures of the Precolumbian hierarchical societies. The chiefdoms which inhabited the Diquís Delta created hierarchical settlements expressing the division of different levels of power centers,

Archaeological Investigations in Sites with Stone Spheres, Delta del Diquís"

The four property components contribute specific elements which allow for the understanding of the chiefdom settlement structures. Finca 6 is the only site retaining stone spheres in linear arrangements, Batambal is the only chiefdom settlement visible from a far distance, El Silencio contains the largest single stone sphere ever found, and Grijalba-2 site is unique for its use of limestone and its distinctive characteristics as a subordinate centre, as opposed to the Finca 6 site, which was likely a principal center.

Archaeological sites with sets of stone spheres have been affected for decades and individual spheres have been removed, altered or destroyed causing a great loss of the Costa Rican cultural heritage. For many years, archaeological investigations were scarce, but since the early 1990s, investigations began to progressively fill information gaps.

Diquis Stone Spheres

They appear to have been made by hammering natural boulders with other rocks, then polishing with sand. The degree of finishing and precision of working varies considerably. The gabbro came from sites in the hills, several kilometers away from where the finished spheres are found, though some unfinished spheres remain in the hills. They are used for decoration.

Since 2005, the National Museum of Costa Rica has developed the project “Archaeological Investigations in Sites with Stone Spheres, Delta del Diquís” aimed at studying the pre-Columbian occupation of the delta, focusing particularly on archaeological sites with the presence of stone spheres. At the same time trying to contribute to the discussion of various issues of regional relevance such as the emergence of rank societies and their particularities, in light of local developments proposed from the genetics and linguistics of current indigenous groups.

Diquís Delta

The regional and medium-term focus of this study has allowed a growing accumulation of information on different periods of occupation and establish the great potential of knowledge despite decades of agricultural work. The activities have combined inspection, evaluation and partial excavation of various settlements.

Diquis Stones COsta Rica

The spheres were discovered in the 1930s as the United Fruit Company was clearing the jungle for banana plantations.[4] Workmen pushed them aside with bulldozers and heavy equipment, damaging some spheres. Additionally, inspired by stories of hidden gold, workmen began to drill holes into the spheres and blow them open with sticks of dynamite. Several of the spheres were destroyed before authorities intervened. Some of the dynamited spheres have been reassembled and are currently on display at the National Museum of Costa Rica in San José. The collection at the National Museum of Costa Rica is made up of six of the spheres.  A lot of the spheres also ended up as lawn decorations for many Tico citizens

Precolumbian Chiefdom Settlements with  of the Diquís Stone Spheres  VIA YACHT MAP

All the information also served as the basis for the documentation of the candidacy file of the Finca 6, Batambal, Grijalba-2 and El Silencio sites as world heritage sites before UNESCO, which focused on their relevance as representatives of pre-Columbian chiefdom settlements with spheres stone from the Diquís and in general from the societies that occupied the tropical forest areas of southern Central America. The candidacy was approved in June 2014 and now, together with research at the regional level, work is being done on the conservation and management of these sites.

Diquis stone spheres