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An Archaeological History of Costa Rica

Costa Rica News – When most people think Costa Rican history their minds travel back to when the Spanish came to the country and Central America in 1502.  The real story of course starts many years before that date.  

Guayabo de Turrialba 1Archeologists are ever finding more evidence to paint us a picture of ancient civilizations here in Costa Rica. There are three main dig sites giving us a glimpse into the life of Meso Americans.

First is Guayabo de Turrialba. The site is 540 acres and is found in Turrualba on the southern slope of the volcano. Scientist say the findings are from a settlement from 1500 B.C. At it’s height, the city had between 10,000 and 25,000 people and was abandoned for an unknown reason around 1400 A.D. That’s a century before the arrival of the Spanish.

It is strange that the Spanish left no record of having discovered this location. Only 10 percent of the site has already been excavated but a lot has been found in that small percentage. Some of the findings include: stone streets, water cisterns, structures, and petroglyphs providing evidence of a once thriving society. We have learned that there were two leaders: a political leader called a Cacique and a spiritual one called a Saman.

Lake Arenal is the location of the second site. Payson Sheets, a behavioral archeologist, used NASA remote sensing technology to discover remote footpaths around and under Lake Arenal. They date back to 500 B.C. The civilization is said to have vanished due to the plague.

The final site which offers data about the pre-history of Costa Rica is on the Nicoya peninsula. They have found link- evidence that the ancient Olmecs interacted with the “pre-Ticos.” Peeling back layers of time shows us that our ancestors were, like us, looking for their special place in this paradise.

There is a story in the country that is literally being uncovered and brought to light with these archaeological digs.

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One Comment;

  1. Joe de Tambor said:

    An excellent article Ms. La. Do you have any specific references that I may read that you used for your background research?

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