THE GREAT BALLS OF COSTA RICA: Giant stone spheres whose purpose is unfathomable
The great balls of Costa Rica, pictured, were found in the 1930s. Some
are as large as two metres in diameter. Now dated to between 600 and
1000 AD, the balls are known locally as Las Bolas. Yet, there are no
written records of the culture of the people who created them
Why the people of pre-Spanish colonisation Costa Rica decided to carve
hundreds of giant balls out of stone is as much a mystery today as it
was when the balls were discovered. The Great Balls of Costa Rica were
found by the United Fruit Company in the 1930s, when it was clearing
land to turn into banana plantations. Some are as large as two metres in
Now dated to between 600 and 1000 AD, the balls are known locally as Las
Bolas. What makes solving the mystery particularly challenging is there
are no written records of the culture of the people who created them.
Spanish settlers ensured the indigenous population’s cultural heritage
was wiped out. One of the first investigations of the stones was
published in 1943 by archaeologist Doris Stone, who mapped their
distribution. University of Kansas anthropologist Professor John Hoopes
has dismissed most theories about the stones’ purpose – in particular
those concerning lost cities and space ships.
In 2012, he travelled to Costa Rica to evaluate their potential for World Heritage Status. A decision has not yet been made.