Hiya ATS. A chance news article reminded me of something I first read about in a Von Daniken book. As some of you know, I'm not really into mysteries
and usually opt for the scientific explanations. The article mentioned the curious stone spheres of Costa Rica and revived some sense of that wonder
and curiosity I used to feel for ancient mysteries. I set off around the web looking for more information and found espionage and a remaining
These intriguing items litter the beautiful Costa Rica...when I say litter, I mean there are hundreds. They're found under jungle cover, hidden
beneath foliage or half-buried in the ground. When we think about the spheres we tend to imagine the 12 feet tall ones that get the attention. Some
may be surprised to find that they come in many different sizes...as small as a child's fist in some cases. Made from diorite (a very hard rock) by
people who hadn't yet discovered iron and for what reasons? We've seen what the Egyptians could do with diorite and stone tools...but their
intentions remain clearer.
What did the people of Costa Rica hope to achieve by creating hundreds of stone spheres? What did these balls symbolise and why is the memory of
their creation lost in the dimness of the past?
They'd stood like silent sentinels from the past, hidden away in the shadows and forgotten paths of the island's forests. Much like Stonehenge, they
withstood the passage of time and people lived their lives around them without really paying them the attention they once demanded. So it remained
until the 1930s and the business interests of the modern world came calling in the shape of the United Fruit Company. They began a land clearance for
a banana plantation and discovered a number of these big objects getting in the way of the 20th Century....they used dynamite and steam shovels to
Luckily for history, a relative of the fruit company, Dr Doris Stone was a historian and she stepped in to study them before all hope was lost. By
1943 she'd had her findings published and caught the attention of archaeologist Samuel Kirkland Lothrop. The image below is he and his wife (I bet
you all recognise that one) and adjacent is a sphere being dragged away in chains...
His wife wrote in her journal the very same questions we are asking decades later...
Prehistoric Stone Balls--a Mystery By Eleanor Lothrop
Why should hundreds of these perfectly shaped spheres, ranging in diameter from a few inches to eight feet, be scattered through the jungles
southwestern Costa Rica? How could prehistoric people have shaped them with only the crudest of tools? And how could they have moved them over hill
and dale from the distant sources of stone? No other stone balls of like size have been found anywhere else in the world, except for a few in the
highlands of Guatemala and in Vera Cruz. The smooth, beautiful and almost perfectly rounded spheres give mute testimony to the artistic powers of an
ancient people and tax modern man’s ingenuity in explaining their workmanship and significance.
This is where the story gets a little more interesting. Lothrop was a genuine archaeologist and a secret agent working for the US Naval Intelligence
in WW2. By the time he got to Costa Rica he'd been working for none other than J. Edgar Hoover as part of the Special Intelligence Service (SIS).
These guys were expected to engage in espionage, grooming informants and destabilising 'anti-American' interests...the proto-CIA. His time in Costa
Rica was openly studying the spheres and culture, which could provide excellent cover for other activities. He'd spent time in Peru and had been so
engrossed in the spy game that he voiced concerns of blowing his cover on either side. He simply wasn't showing any evidence of being an
Anthropologists as Spies
"As regards the archaeological cover for my work in Peru, it was based on the understanding that I was to be in the country six months or less.
It is wearing thin and some day somebody is going to start asking why an archaeologist spends most of his time in towns asking questions. This won't
happen as soon as it might because the Rockefeller grant for research in Peru makes me a contact man between the field workers and the government."
According to the FOIA mentioned in the above link, Lothrop resigned from the SIS in late 1944. In a biography after his death, the author doesn't
seem to know about his past services and remarks that Lothrop was an independent man of means until his death in '65. Does that sound like a retired
agent? Who knows?
Lothrop's studies of the Costa Rican culture that possibly created the spheres came up with a number of artifacts and suggestions of what some of
these spheres could be. Pottery pieces found underneath and around spheres have been dated back to the Aguas Buenas and Chiriquí cultures...around
6th century. As the pieces were underneath the sphere...the expectation is that they were there first. Other pieces of potsherds have been dated to
between the 10th and 15th century...source
This is taken as evidence that the people making the spheres must have been settled for almost a thousand years and creating spheres. Of course, if
anyone had moved the spheres during that space of time, we'd have even less idea about their age...
The latest guy to research these enigmatic spheres is Dr John W. Hoopes. He's got a lot of the answers and is one of two leading experts on the
University of Kansas researcher investigates mysterious stone spheres in Costa
"We really don't know why they were made," Hoopes said. "The people who made them didn't leave any written records. We're left to
archeological data to try to reconstruct the context. The culture of the people who made them became extinct shortly after the Spanish conquest. So,
there are no myths or legends or other stories that are told by the indigenous people of Costa Rica about why they made these spheres."
The answers we want are out of his reach too...it's possible we'll never know for sure what drove the people of Costa Rica to devote their energies
to these stone mysteries. Sun worship? Agriculture? Status? Calendars? Religion?
Eleanor Lothrop would have made a perfect ATSer when she wrote this...
Some day more information may be procured, but meanwhile the balls remain as enigmatical as the huge statues on Easter Island or the monuments
of Stonehenge. In each of these places, enormous stones have been quarried, shaped, and moved without mechanical devices except ropes for hauling them
and inclined ramps for lifting them.
Maybe our own civilization contains elements of material culture that will survive all knowledge of their purpose. So it goes: one era’s triumph is
the next era’s riddle.
Thanks for reading this far
EDIT to promote Costa Rica back to part of the mainland...must be a timeline shift...it was an island last year...ahem
[edit on 9-4-2010 by Kandinsky]