History and Looting in Costa Rica

guayabofromabove.jpgMaggie Koerth-Baker has a terrific two-part series on the ancient Chibchan culture in Costa Rica at BoingBoing.  The ancient CAribbean shares many characteristics with the ancient Mediterranean, in which a number of cultures traded and impacted each other.  Yet Costa Rica receives relatively little attention:

Despite a scarcity of giant tourist-attracting monuments, ancient Costa Rica was a pretty hopping place—a nexus of trade where the cultures of Mexico and Central America met those of northern South America, and elements of both were incorporated into the unique and diverse Chibchan culture. Gold ornaments, jade carvings and pottery are literally just below the surface, uncovered by modern construction—or even just poking around in the backyard. So why the low profile? Blame the combined forces of local climate, indigenous tragedy and looting as national pastime.

She talks with Michael Snarskis, an archaeologist examining ancient Costa Rican cultures.  The series does a terrific job documenting the damage done by looting, something archaeologists must account for in nearly every excavation in Costa Rica and elsewhere.  Are there any archaeological sites not at risk from looters?

Ancient Costa Rica Part I: Lost history in the land of the crossroads
Ancient Costa Rica Part II: The narrow road to Guayabo

Questions or Comments? Email me at derek.fincham@gmail.com

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