The Legendary Big Balls of Costa Rica: Simple Stone Sculptures or Interplanetary Markers
It’s common knowledge that Costa Rica is heralded for its biodiversity and hundreds of miles of untouched beaches, but a lesser known fact is that it’s also home to one of the biggest archaeological mysteries in Central America: the Costa Rica Diquís stone spheres.
What and where are the Costa Rica stone spheres?
Over 300 almost perfectly symmetrical stones have been found to date, primarily located throughout the Diquís Delta and the Osa Peninsula in the Southern Pacific region of Costa Rica. They range from a few inches to in diameter to over 6 feet (weighing in at an impressive 16 tons) and are typically made of gabbro (a type of basalt which is not found naturally in the country), but there are some formed from limestone and sandstone.
The stones or las esferas (locally called “Las Bolas”) were originally discovered in 1939 by the United Fruit Company as they were clearing out dense jungle lots to create space for banana plantations. It’s believed that the stones were constructed around the Pre-Columbian era, sometime between 300 – 800 A.D. However, only about 10% of the spheres have remained in their original location; the rest have been moved to various museums, parks, and government buildings, even traveling all the way to the Costa Rica Embassy in Washington D.C. Prior to modern conservation efforts, it’s assumed many were destroyed or damaged in the search for gold or from early farmers cultivating the land as well.
The Fact, The Fiction, The Mysterious Spheres of Costa Rica
The stones remain a true mystery both in their origin and their purpose. A very practical and likely theory displayed at the Finca 6 Museum in Palmar Sur indicates that they were man-made with primitive tools:
The spheres were used as symbols of rank, introduced by powerful individuals on special occasions or to represent their elevated social and political status. The larger and more perfect the sphere, and the greater their number, the greater the prestige and importance of the village and its inhabitants.
However, because of their size, bulk, and precise craftsmanship, many argue it’s impossible that indigenous people created and positioned these colossal stones, especially because they have been found as far out as Isla del Caño which is an island 17 kilometers off the Central Pacific coast. This skepticism is understandable considering there’s no amount of technology, transportation, sheer will or pure Pre-Columbian hooch to make that lengthy boat trip a possibility back then with a 10 ton stone.
With so many unanswered questions regarding the Costa Rica spheres, it’s no surprise that cable TV shows like CNN Global Treasures and Ancient Aliens have showcased the stones, speculating that they could be connected to extraterrestrials or have even more controversial roots like the lost city of Atlantis. These ideas are further supported by the programs based on the discovery of similar unexplainable round stones throughout the world, including Australia, Mexico, Easter Island (yes the place with the heads), Italy, Russia, Bosnia and Egypt.
Even if those theories seem a little radical, it’s a documented fact that there are still large partially buried spheres at Finca 6 in Costa Rica that line up perfectly with the rising sun two times per year, making it highly likely that the spheres were used as a way of gauging time or following the stars. However, because so many of the original Diquís stones were moved before they could be properly researched, they will continue to be an intriguing mystery of Costa Rica’s history.
No matter what their official story is, the Costa Rica stones have captured the curiosity of the globe, even becoming a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014. If you’re in the South Pacific Zone of Costa Rica, make sure to get a selfie with this bizarre piece of Costa Rica history.