Festival goers will hear an unusual theory about stone spheres

A.M. Costa Rica/Aaron Knapp
Ivar Zapp and a large stone sphere that has been placed at
the Universidad de Costa Rica.

Costa Rica’s unique stone spheres have puzzled archaeologists, anthropologists and just about everyone else for 70 years.

While the mainstream theory accepted by most archaeologists is that these spheres were made as status symbols sometime between 200 B.C. and 1600 A.D., other researchers have posed theories as unorthodox as attributing the spheres to ancient astronauts.

For one researcher, Ivar Zapp, these spheres are the key to unveiling the mysteries behind an ancient seafaring civilization that Plato knew as Atlantis.

But more than that, he believes that Costa Rica’s spheres could reveal where humanity learned some of its most basic skills such as celestial navigation, transoceanic sailing, the planet’s shape, and most importantly, language.

“The features that I have observed in the legacy of Costa Rica and the stone spheres prove to me that we’re talking about an unknown civilization with maritime interests that reached all of the old civilizations of the world,” the Santa Ana resident said.

“Nobody knew what was the mother tongue, but now I do,” he said, adding that it is a Mayan language still used today.

Next week, Zapp will present his latest research on how the spheres show the existence of a maritime civilization that thrived for thousands of years before even the Greeks, the Egyptians and the Sumerians. He said that this civilization introduced the world to seafaring and star constellations, but it also created the world’s first spoken language.

This will be the focus of his next book “Babel Deciphered,” which he has completed, but he is searching for a publisher to get it on book shelves.

Zapp will present his research at a five-day conference in the canton of Osa hosted by Proyecto Esferas, which is attempting to build up tourism in the area and bring greater awareness to the spheres. That conference starts Monday and ends Oct. 20 with a concert called Osastock, featuring numerous national and international music acts, such as Boy George. That Web site is HERE!

Experts agree that the spheres that liter some areas of southwestern Costa Rica have at least been around for centuries before Europeans arrived. However, the spheres are very difficult to date because traditional dating techniques rely on organic matter or just simply guessing based on what cultures used artifacts found nearby.

Soon after the spheres began getting attention from researchers in the 1940s, Costa Ricans began taking them from their original locations and making them into personal lawn ornaments.

By removing them from their original locations, they have been removed from their archaeological contexts making it almost impossible to prove what they were for, according to John Hoopes, a researcher from the University of Kansas and widely seen as the chief expert on the spheres.

But Zapp said that the spheres start to make sense when perceived from a wider perspective than just archaeological.

“If we become aware of the techniques used by ancient navigators to orient their ships towards important destinations because of commerce or relatives, then the stone spheres of Costa Rica and the legacy of gold and jade and ceramics become intelligible,” said Zapp. “In a sense they become tools to orient their ships. The spheres are teaching aids to teach directional astronomy.”

Zapp, 70, has been living in Costa Rica for more then 40 years teaching industrial design at Tecnologico de Costa Rica and the Universidad de Costa Rica. Some of his most fundamental research he has done alongside students in his classes.

He coauthored his first book, “Atlantis in America: Navigators of the Ancient World,” with George Erikson, and it was published in 1998. In that book, he lays out evidence that the balls were the sites of learning centers, ancient universities where people were taught how to navigate with the stars. That Web site is HERE!

He said that one cluster of spheres which was recorded by the first researchers indicates a northern meridian, and another follows almost a straight line from Costa Rica to Cocos Islands, the Galapagos Islands and Easter Island. Some spheres from that cluster have since been removed making this theory difficult for archaeologists to prove or disprove

In his latest book, Zapp says the Costa Rican sphere was not only the first star map, but also the first language. He related points on the sphere with letters and said that as he looked further he found that the letters of particular meridians corresponded to words in the Mayan language Qajichiquel or Kaqchikel, which is still spoken by an ethnic group living in southern Mexico and Guatemala. He said that this was humankind’s first language.

As for the fall of Atlantis described by Plato, Zapp said that was not the literal collapse of a continent into the ocean, but the collapse of knowledge that plunged the world into a dark age where people forgot the language and navigation techniques pioneered by a civilization in the Americas.

While Zapp admitted that most archaeologists discard his theories with disdain, he defiantly invited them to prove him wrong, confident that they will eventually prove him right.

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