Archaeologists get a new tool to find hidden goodies

A hidden stone ball might be the new discovery as archaeologists take to the field with their new ground-penetrating radar setup.

The Museo Nacional received a gift of such a device, it said Tuesday. The machine looks a bit like a lawnmower. The radar antenna is moved close to the ground for good reception and radio wave emissions register on it and a computer screen.

The device has been used extensively in archaeology, but also bridge inspection and other construction work.

The museum said that the device will be put to work first at Las Mercedes on the ground of Universidad EARTH in Guácimo de Limón, Piedra Alegre in Pital de San Carlos and Finca 6 in Palmar Sur de Osa.

Palma Sur is where the famous Costa Rican stone balls are found. One recently was located below ground by hand, so there is a good chance there are others that have been covered by the centuries.

The radar device is non-intrusive and archaeologists can get a good idea of town plans and other buried stone work quickly and without digging.

Another potential target is Guayabo de Turrialba, where only a fraction of the pre-Columbian native city has been uncovered.
And then there is the Treasure of Lima, said to be buried somewhere on the Isla del Cocos.

The museum said the device is valued at $22,000 and was a gift by Bernal and Ricardo Monge Herrera. The device is made by Geophysical Survey Systems, Inc., in Nashua, New Hampshire.

The device looks a lot like a lawn mower.

The device looks a lot like a lawn mower.

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