Costa Rica: Pre-Columbian Sites Added to UNESCO World Heritage List

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Above: one of Costa Rica’s famous stone spheres

By the Caribbean Journal staff

A group of four Pre-Columbian sites in Costa Rica’s Diquis Delta have been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The sites, located in the southern region of Costa Rica, include a group of nearly perfect cylindrical stone spheres, the use and origin of which remain unknown.

“Receiving UNESCO’s designation as a Cultural World Heritage Site is truly an honor for our country,” Costa Rica President Luis Guillermo Solis said in a statement. “The Diquís society is a significant representation of Costa Rica’s pre-Columbian legacy and the country’s rich history, and we take great pride in preserving and celebrating their archaeological treasures.”

According to UNESCO, the sites are considered “unique examples of the complex social, economic and political systems of the  period between 500-1500  AD.”

They include artificial mounds, paved areas and the collection of spheres, which are between 0.7 metres and 2.57 metres in diameter.

“The spheres are distinctive for their perfection, their number, size and density, and their placement in their original locations,” UNESCO said. “Their preservation from the looting that befell the vast majority of archeological sites in Costa Rica has been attributed to the thick layers of sediment that kept them buried for centuries.”

They are the first sites to be added to the World Heritage List as cultural property.

Costa Rica’s Talamanca Range-La Amistad Reserves/La Amistad National Park, the Cocos Island National Park and the Area de Conservacion Guanacaste are all on the list as natural property.

“This international recognition provides a tremendous opportunity to showcase our rich culture and unique historical attractions,” said Wilhelm von Breymann, Costa Rica’s Tourism Minister. “Our hope is to continue providing international travelers with new dynamic sites to visit and experience.”