The Stone Spheres in the Canton of Osa

An Enigmatic Attraction in a Cultural landscape

The Stone spheres in Osa have become a striking element that identifies the communities of Palmar North and South, as well as other former banana farms and villages that lie across the South Waterfront.

Their almost perfect roundness generates a lot of curiosity and questions among those who approach to see them, about the way they were made, which tools were used, where the materials were obtained, and what was the symbolism for those who made them.

These artifacts have been in these places ever since immemorial times. Their rediscovery and dispersion surfaced after the banana company’s machinery removed them from their original places, which at the same time compromised the possibility of finding a better scientific explanation than those that currently provide multiple theories regarding their process of fabrication and their functionality.

There has been so much attraction from the tourists and national and international scientists that they have become an icon of the Costa Rican archaeology and cultural heritage of the canton of Osa element.

According to some accounts given by archaeologists who have discussed the issue of the spheres in the area, these impressive pre-Columbian legacies have the particularity of having been manufactured to meet very specific functions within ancestral societies which used them, which could have been, among other things, possible demarcations and / or status symbols of power between these groups. So far, the identification of these areas has been linked to the historical existence of a very useful or collective interest in pre-Hispanic times.

The sizes of these spheres so far identified in the canton of Osa range between a few centimeters to two meters high, and although most of them are not in their original place, the residents of this county feel identified with them and defend them against attempts to plunder the area which some of them have been subject to. Another one of the destructions of these historical legacies was driven by the myth of believing that there was gold in them, so many were blown up, destroying much of its aesthetic beauty that they contain, along with the spiritual value that the current indigenous people in the area give it.

One of the most representative places of these emblematic round stones is Finca 6 in Palmar South. In this place, a large number of these spheres have been identified, and some supposedly on spot, which enhances the importance of this place for scientists who are involved in this specialiy.

Another one of the referring places is the Palmar South park, which has several of these enigmatic spheres, as well as the Osa High School, and the park of Palmar North.

So far, in regards to this pre-Columbian heritage, some support in protection initiatives have been found, which have been generated by local groups and political entities in the area. Proof of these efforts is the declaration of the Osa Canton of archaeological interest as according to the Executive Decree 23387/C, published in “La Gaceta” Number 119 on June 22, 1994. This makes it the third county in the country to have this distinction, a sign of political will of local institutions to support efforts to rescue programs and conservation of cultural heritage in the area.

In 2001, the Canton’s local institutions pushed the idea of a theme park that would give a boost the stone spheres of the area, which is why the Ministry of Culture, through an negotiation of the National Museum of Costa Rica, elevated the negotiation to the UNESCO, and included it in the indicative list of World Heritage Sites that same year, under the name “Fullness under the Sky: Pre-Columbian Sphere Park”, so they are still waiting for the final results to decide this global entity.

These spheres are characterized by being associated with rivers and large concourses, so the theory that they were uses as identification of symbols to places of great interest groups in pre-Columbian societies goes on.

In sum, this cultural legacy that Osa preserves is an integral part of a series of elements of the cultural heritage of this southern canton. Moreover, there is the banana legacy,where we find houses with their own designs and types for this area that often faces floods and heat generated by the Rio Grande Terra and Sierpe especially. But there is also knowledge of local gastronomy, handicrafts based on local materials, medicinal plants, oral tradition, crafts, tours of the natural wetland Terraba – Sierpe, among other cultural attractions in the county.

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