Spheres of Costa Rica
April 10, 2007
On a trip to Costa Rica in 2004, I was fortunate to have seen some of the unique and quizzical “stone spheres” that are famous in this part of the world. These stones are carved from an igneous type rock called, granodiorite (granite like, but with more plagioclase than orthoclase feldspar). These spheres range in size from that of a baseball to over 2 meters in diameter (over 6 feet).
Their exact date of creation is widely speculated. It's felt that these spheres could be anywhere from 400 to 2,200 years old. Though not perfectly round in shape, most spheres are reportedly up to 96% round or out of round by no more than 5 centimeters (2 inches). There have been hundreds discovered throughout Costa Rica since the 1930’s. Unfortunately, many have been removed from their original locations of discovery and few have been well documented from an archeological standpoint. As a result, little is known of their origins or purpose. Speculation ranges from the marking of burial mounds to some form of astronomical application. Like other monolithic mysteries of the Old World, many of these spheres were likely moved from where the host rock was quarried, some from over 80 kilometers (50 miles). These rocks were fashioned by hand by the ancestors of the indigenous people of the region.
I observed the above specimen in a public park at Palmer Norte in southeastern Costa Rica, where there were 11 different sized spheres on open display in a park-like setting. The above image shows my travel companion (Mike Kindree) beside a 1.2 meter (4.7 foot) diameter specimen. This sphere is estimated to weigh possibly 4.5 tons. Photo taken on November 28, 2004.