U.N. official gets a look at those famous stone spheres

Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud photo Irina Bokova, left, is among those viewing a stone sphere that was found in situ.

Irina Bokova got a first-hand look at the stone spheres that Costa Rica has put forth as candidates for world heritage status. She is
director general of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization which contains an agency that eventually will make a decision on the spheres.

Ms. Bokova, a Harvard grad, toured three of the four major sphere sites in southwestern Costa Rica. They are Finca 6, El Sitio and Batambal. All are in the Cantón de Osa. Costa Rica is counting on world heritage designation because it will give a boost to tourism, among other advantages.

The Museo Nacional is developing a museum devoted to the spheres and the culture that made them on Finca 6, near Palmar Sur. Although archaeologists are not sure why the spheres were made, the current thinking is that they represented symbols of rank and were placed near the entrances to the homes of chiefs.

The world heritage process is lengthy.  Experts made an original inspection in 2010. Earlier this year, the U.N. agency’s  World Heritage Committee said the spheres were on its agenda for cultural heritage consideration.

The collection of locations would be the first Costa Rican cultural listing. There already are three natural heritage sites: Area de Conservación Guanacaste, Parque Nacional de Isla del Coco and the Talamanca Range and the cross-border Parque Nacional La Amistad.

Costa Rica also is represented on the intangible human heritage list with the distinctive oxcarts and the boyero tradition. The intangible list includes activities such as dances, songs and crafts.

Ms. Bokova noted that the decision on heritage status is not hers to make but rests with the committee.

She visited last week in part for a ceremony at the University for Peace in Ciudad Colón.

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