Ancient stone sphere has a great view of city from museum

When Museo Nacional officials wanted to put one of those pre-Columbian spheres at the museum entrance to greet visitors, they had a little problem.

There is no doubt that if the sphere were just set there, a couple of guys with jacks and a pickup would whisk it away in the night.

Such artifacts are highly desirable as lawn ornaments.

The result was a spacious, free-sanding chamber just outside the entrance to house the ball.

The spheres are the product of an ancient civilization that lived in the Diques area of southwestern Costa Rica.

Officials are in the process of developing a satellite museum in Palmar Sur, and they expect that the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization will confer shortly world heritage status on the spheres.

In the meantime, more tourists are likely to see the stone spheres at the main museum than on the Pacific coast. A museum worker said plans are in the works to put a much larger sphere in the enclosure.

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