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Plenitude under the sky. Park of Pre-Colombian Stone Spheres

 
Author meltwaterfalls
Partaker
#1 | Posted: 30 Mar 2010 05:24 | Edited by: meltwaterfalls 
I just got forwarded this article relating to Plenitude under the sky. Park of Pre-Colombian Stone Spheres in Costa Rica. There are some great pictures and it talks about the assesment of them as a potential WHS. I had never encountered them before and they look pretty interesting. Not sure when they will be put forward for inscription though.

Also I just saw this article. The Tico Times link has more pictures. Still not sure when this is being nominated for, we don't have it on this years list so I guess it may be for 2011 as there seems to be a flurry of activity on it at the moment. Including this report from UNESCO themselves.

Author Solivagant
Partaker
#2 | Posted: 30 Mar 2010 10:41 | Edited by: Solivagant 
A number of issues arise regarding this subject posted by Meltwaterfalls which forum members might find of interest!

"Plenitude under the sky. Park of Pre-Colombian Stone Spheres". Where on earth has this poetic title for the T List entry come from?!! Comment has already been made on this Web site about the growing tendency from many countries to give aspiring sites similar descriptive titles which often seem more concerned with "bigging up" a weak proposition than in reflecting its true nature!! We also noted that UNESCO was trying to discourage the tendency. I have thought that there might even be an interesting "Connection" for such "hifalutin" site names!

Now, I remember no park with such a title when I visited Costa Rica and neither does my guide book identify anything similar. A whole series of Wiki searches failed to surface anything relevant. Since it doesn't sound a very likely "English phrase" I translated it into Spanish ("Plenitud bajo el Cielo"). This uncovered a link to an article which dates back to Feb 2002 and only appears to exist now as a cached entry on Google. It states "Spheres are getting into the news at the museum lately. A Costa Rican artist whose sculptures are strongly influenced by the spheres is Jorge Jiménez Deredia. He will be honored with a book written about his work by French author Pierre Restany on Feb. 20 at the museum. The title is "Plenitud Bajo el Cielo"!! Sure enough you will come across plenty of Balls in Sr Deredia's Web site http://www.deredia.com/CV_Bio.htm . His site also includes quite a long extract from said book.

The article also states "Meanwhile, the museum is working towards developing a large park area in the Osa Peninsula in far southwest Costa Rica where spheres can be collected from throughout the southern zone and also perhaps from some front and backyards in San José. Museum officials hope to announce the project later." So, back in 2002, there were plans for park on the Osa peninsula for a "collection" of spheres. The Costa Rican nomination of the site to its T List took place in 2001. But I can find absolutely no evidence from the Web that this park has progressed beyond a "dream"!

Such progress as has occurred appears to relate to the 2009 UNESCO budget to support a study and development of a nomination and the completion of the study followed by the Mar 2010 meeting in San Jose as identified by Meltwaterfalls. This press release on Eureka Alert appeared on Mar 22 (Well timed!) from the University of Kansas where the guy who appears to be the world-wide guru on Costa Rican balls resides – "John Hoopes, associate professor of anthropology and director of the Global Indigenous Nations Studies Program, recently returned from a trip to Costa Rica where he and colleagues evaluated the stone balls for UNESCO, the United Nations cultural organization that might grant the spheres World Heritage Status. His report will help determine if sites linked to the massive orbs will be designated for preservation and promotion because of their "outstanding value to humanity." Hoopes, who researches ancient cultures of Central and South America, is one of the world's foremost experts on the Costa Rican spheres". Indeed he has a Web site devoted to the subject http://web.ku.edu/~hoopes/balls/ and was present at the UNESCO meeting in San Jose.

So, how strong is the case for the site likely to be? I can find no information as yet on what the report said! One would, I suppose, expect "world experts" on the subject to be in favour – being involved in gaining such an inscription would look good on CVs and even cap a life time of research and study! BUT.....

My 1997 Insight guide book of Costa Rica says of the Granite spheres that "they stand mute in their new locations, at the National Museum and in the gardens of expensive homes in the central valley.... They can also see them undisturbed in their original habitat in a place on Isla Cano". Now Isla (del) Cano is on Costa Rica's T List in its own right (together with Corcovado NP) as a Biological Reserve solely on Natural Criteria with no mention of its archaeological credentials. Furthermore it was up for nomination in 2004 but was withdrawn by Costa Rica at the last moment. The evaluation report records that IUCN considered that it failed to meet any of the 3 natural criteria on which it had been nominated ( http://whc.unesco.org/document/53040 ). IUCN however also referred to the "mysterious stone spheres created by indigenous peoples, scattered throughout the island" and noted that it had received comments from ICOMOS which "recommend(ed) that this resource needs to be evaluated by qualified archaeologists in order to identify key sites for protection and determine how these resources can safely be presented to visitors"

Now there are plenty of other pre-Columbian archaeological sites in the Diquis Delta to the north of the Osa peninsula but Asst Prof Hoope's own Web site indicates that a significant degradation of all of them as regards in situ Granite spheres has occurred e.g "The spheres number over 300. The large ones weigh many tons. Today, they decorate official buildings such as the Asamblea Legislativa, hospitals and schools. You can find them in museums. You can also find them as ubiquitous status symbols adorning the homes and gardens of the rich and powerful."

The idea that UNESCO might inscribe a park, however romantically named (and linked to Costa Rica's most famous sculptor!), where spheres have been collected from their "authentic" locations seems unlikely. But this is what Costa Rica appears to be majoring on in its T List proposal - "The present proposal is oriented towards the development of a museum on the spot where the starting point would be the reconstruction of the sphere groups documented by archaeologists such as Samuel Lothrop and Doris Stone, who were able to observe the sphere groups in their original site to arranging the return of the spheres to their original site where they made seeks to arouse awareness about the importance, protection and preservation of the ones still "in situ". It is believed that the reconstruction of such groups to offering an attractive visiting place could enable their study in relation to possible associations with astronomic phenomena. "

It will be interesting to see what sort of case, if any, Asst Prof Hoopes and his colleagues have managed to work up - but so far it doesn't sound likely to be very strong!!!

Author Assif
Partaker
#3 | Posted: 30 Mar 2010 12:10 
Just another aspect of this potential nomination - Precolumbian cutures are traditionally divided into two major spheres of influence: the Mesoamerican and the Andean. Amazonean, Patagonian or North American cultures are outside these spheres of influence due to their geographical remoteness. Between these two spheres the intermediate zone is located, where cultures are said to have been equally influenced by both these centres. Mesoamerican, Andean and North American Precolumbian sites are already represented in the list (with some gaps). The entire intermediate zone (Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua) only has two sites on the list, both in Colombia. This could give IUCN some extra-motivation to have this site nominated.
And if we are speaking of gaps, mind you that in the Andean zone many great cultures are still missing (Wari, Moche, Collas, Canari), in the Mesoamerican sphere Olmec sites are not represented and no Amazonean sites are on the list (Kuhikugu, Marajo) except of Serro de Capibara.

Author Solivagant
Partaker
#4 | Posted: 30 Mar 2010 17:25 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Do you know of the "Atlas of Ancient America" (Coe, Snow + Benson)? I personally found its cultural division of the Americas quite illuminating. Much (but not entirely) along the lines you describe
North America is seen as an "equal" but separate cultural area with perfectly valid pre-Columbian credentials. Only the Inuit are excluded as being biologically, linguistically and culturally distinct having been "late-comer" arrivals. It stretches down into Central Mexico and is subdivided into 13 cultural groups by geographic area - Arctic, Western and Eastern Subarctic, NW Coast, Plateau, N Plains, S Canadian, Californian, Great Basin, Prairie, E Woodlands, S West, and NW Mexico (From west to East and north to south)
Meso America runs down to El Salvador/W Honduras plus the Pacific coasts of Nicaragua and Costa Rica (thus including the Osa Peninsula/Diquis Delta and their spheres!) and is dealt with as a single cultural area, albeit with different eras and sub cultures.
South America takes in Atlantic Honduras/Nicaragua together with the rest of Costa Rica, Panama, The Antilles from Cuba south and of course all of the Continent. It is subdivided into 9 cultural groups by geography - Circum Caribbean (down to most of Columbia), Antilles (the islands plus much of Venezuela and Guyana), N+C Andes (approx Peru/Ecuador), Amazonia, S Andes (mountain Bolivia, Chile to the Bio Bio and Andean Argentina north of Patagonia), Gran Chaco, Eastern Highlands, Pampas and Tierra del Fuego.

You are correct in pointing out that many of these have no representation at all on the list - sometimes perhaps because there is not much in the way of "tangible" remains - but archaeological sites elsewhere in the world are inscribed when there is little left to see other than by archaeologists. Not all "culturally important sites" have massive pyramids and stone structures!

The Atlas refers to the area of modern Ecuador as being a "Crossroads of the Americas" and refers to hints of interactions with Meso America (mainly in the direction of S to N) but I would be interested in knowing of any definite evidence. I remember seeing the remains of a Taino ball court on Puerto Rico at Caguana ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caguana_Ceremonial_Ball_Courts_Site ) -another good candidate for inscription but not on the US T List! the Taino were/are Arawaks whose forebears had migrated NORTH from Venzuela all the way up to Cuba - but it can't have been a coincidence that they, like the Meso Americans had ball courts?

Another memory I have of a lesser known pre-Columbian archaeological site is that of the petroglyphs on the Island of Ometepe on Lake Nicaragua (
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ometepe ) - but Nicaragua is pursuing yet more colonial centros historicos in the form of Leon and Granada rather than its pre-columbian heritage!

You mention the amazing lack of any inscribed Olmec site - but I fear damage by the oil industry and the removal of many heads to a "Park" near Villahermosa would probably preclude the inscription of La Venta. And I would expect the Spheres of Costa Rica, now for the greatest part decorating the gardens of the Costa Rican rich to have the same problem -even if they too are set up in a "Park" !

And then there is Ciudad Perdida ......... yes so many missing, but significant, pre Columbian sites! It is not just Africa which is under-represented.

Author Assif
Partaker
#5 | Posted: 31 Mar 2010 15:14 | Edited by: Assif 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Lorenzo_Tenochtitl%C3%A1n is pehaps the best known Olmec site.
Some additional significant sites in what is called the Intermediate Area http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intermediate_Area besides Ciudad Perdida and Ometepe:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guayabo_de_Turrialba
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Las_Mercedes_(Archaeological_Site,_Costa_Rica)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barriles
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pre-Columbian_Cocl%C3%A9
http://www.ecuador.com/sights/la-tolita-site/

Puerto Rico will have to wait for its turn. I guess it won't be on the American top priority for nominatig new WHS.

Author Assif
Partaker
#6 | Posted: 11 Apr 2010 16:42 

Author Assif
Partaker
#7 | Posted: 19 Jan 2012 15:46 
It now caught my eye that Guayabo de Turrialba was deferred before. Anyone knows why it was then omitted from the T list in favour of the less feasible Plentitude unde the Sky nomination?
Also - Anyone knows of any attempt to progress the nomination of an Olmec site in Mexico?

Author vantcj1
Partaker
#8 | Posted: 3 Mar 2013 18:12 | Edited by: vantcj1 
Hello to everyone in the forum! As I told Els, I have had some trouble to get in the forum before, as you discussed subjects that refered to Costa Rica or Costa rican T list.

As you may know, the government presented the dossier for the Stone Spheres of the Diquis culture to the WH center on january and it was deemed complete, so the process of evaluation is what comes next. It's the first candidacy since Corcovado NP-Isla del Caño in 2003 (which failed) and the first one on a cultural site since the early 80s.

Of course, no cultural candidacy got to the point of inscription and I think cultural heritage in my country has been very understated until the last 10-20 years. No surprise, much of it has been lost irreversibly, even worthy cultural centres and buildings have been lost or remain in patches. The news are here (http://www.nacion.com/2013-03-01/AldeaGlobal/Esferas-de-piedra-de-Costa-Rica-estan-m as-cerca-de-ser-Patrimonio-de-la-Humanidad-) with links to related articles and here (http://www.nacion.com/2013-03-02/AldeaGlobal/-por-que-las-esferas-precolombinas-mere cen-ser-patrimonio-mundial---.aspx?utm_source=OpenEMM&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Li nkHeadline&utm_campaign=Newsletter-AldeaGlobal-ei).

The candidacy on the stone spheres has passed through a lot in a decade, from an object-new agy centered perspective, to a cultural landscape that could include the banana plantations and wooden architecture of the Osa county plains, to the site and mode of production-oriented that the National Museum has prepared and presented, I think with greater consciousness on what tends to appeal and be inscribed.

Of course, it is accepted that there is still room to go since the four sites proposed haven't even been included in Costa Rica's cultural heritage list (URL), a monitoring consultation determined that most of the spheres have been damaged by natural elements and decades of mismanagement after their discovery. It is also acknowledged that the proposition still has to go through ICOMOS evaluation, and that is going to be (as we know) harsh.

There has been some heavy following about the issue of this candidacy in the media, even some months ago there was a pretty complete documentary on TV regarding the stone spheres, the archaeological sites and the objective characteristics of the Diquís culture that created the spheres.

Here there are some articles from an archaeologist to the ICOMOS local chapter

url=http://www.icomoscr.org/content/index.php/patrim-arqueol/259-arqueologico-2012-06 -20

http://www.icomoscr.org/content/index.php/patrim-arqueol/266-arqueologico-2012-0 7-23 , who criticizes the abyss of management of cultural goods that has to be dealt with to get such a site inscribed, the integrity and authenticity issues I'm sure ICOMOS is going to point out, and the involvement of astrology and other pseudo-sciences in the public discussion (of course not on an academic level). I hope nothing of that last thing has leaked into the dossier.

Personally I believe in the proffesionalism of the people involved in the creation of the nomination document, but I wonder to what extent is understood that the work to be developed implies a full involvement of different levels of the government, the community and the private sector. If the scenario that it gets inscribed, even after a defer or refer, what's next? many people in the government agencies (and this is how things work in this country) still has the mentality that is almost the end of the road. But of course belonging to the WH list implies full conservation, monitoring and management from the time of inscription on. I hope the institutions involved will learn to do just that kind of intersectorial work. A lot of restorations of cultural goods, the change of perspective and working muscle of the Centro de Patrimonio (the related government agency) on protection, and a growing consciousness in the public will do great in that direction. But in a year and a half, I don't know.

Author vantcj1
Partaker
#9 | Posted: 9 May 2013 19:41 | Edited by: vantcj1 
Further news on this issue. Last week, Irina Bokova came to Costa Rica to participate in an international convention on the World Press Freedom Day, in which she commended the role the country has had on human rights, both within our borders and abroad.


What cares to us of it? The fact that she then headed south-east to visit three of the four proposed sites of the Diquis Culture candidacy. Some days before, May 1st, president Laura Chinchilla even mentioned briefly the fact that the dossier had been completed and accepted as a bit of a success in a broader strategy to finally promote archaeological protection and promotion, on the annual presidential activities report, before the congress. We have to take into consideration that Osa municipality, where the four sites are located, is one of the poorest areas of the country and tourism there is OK, but not like in other areas of the country. Here is the news URL

On another -and related- subject, last week I attended a conference in the Architecture Board, in which one of the lecturers was architect Christer Gustafsson, responsible for the creation and success of a heritage model in the swedish province of Halland, which is considered part of 'best practices' approach. He was behind the preservation of the Varberg radiostation, as a practical example of this approach. This model involves more deeply the participation of the general public and the private sector. Which were not that accepted as key parts of a heritage protection strategy here up until now.

At least here in Costa Rica, the public sector takes charge of a lot and it was used to restore patrimonial buildings... and that was it, some of those buildings felt into neglect back again...But it's changing to postures like the ones expressed by mr Gustaffson, some municipalities and institutions are being succesful in protecting and presenting what's left of their historic centers and promoting their own local culture, like Mora and Santo Domingo, and I think the Heritage Board here is taking on a more strategic approach. Here there's an extract of an interview with mr Gustafsson URL

Returning to the Diquis case, that all shows the problems I feel that such a site proposal is most liable to have. Again, the problems in many countries stem not to the OUV that the site may have, or the studies and time carried to understand and present them, but to their conservation and management over time, not just for the candidacy alone. And to the fact that a big part of that heritage was underappreciated, damaged, looted or neglected over time. I just hope it will get at least a Deferral. I hope I'm not too optimistic.

Author vantcj1
Partaker
#10 | Posted: 20 May 2014 20:20 
¡Hello, everyone! In this post I'll comment on a few things that Solivagant asked in the 2014 WHC Thread. Sorry for the delay in replying, I have had very busy weeks.

First of all, as you may see, I commented back about the candidacy, on march 3rd 2013, with an actualization on that may. Back then and knowing how hard the process of inscription is, I was worried that the candidacy could get at best a deferral, knowing the problems the country has traditionally faced (thankfully now not as much as before) for the preservation of its cultural heritage, especially management.

Costa Rica has sold itself as a natural destiny for over 40 years, but the conservation of cultural heritage (of any period) has lagged well behind until recently, causing the loss of most of our cultural built heritage. If you could see pictures of cities like San Jose, Heredia and Cartago...they had historic centers back before the 1950s, now...well, San José is an ugly patchwork city. Now the protection is much more rigurous and there is a trend to establish municipal and national regulations for those sites and buildings that are historical, but are not listed as heritage... this is the link to the Costa Rican Heritage Center . Cases like Liberia, Limón, Santo Domingo de Heredia, Santa Cruz, Atenas and others are in development, before it's too late.

Back again to the stone sphere sites, I want to start pointing out a mistake that was made in one of the comments, the sites in Diquis Culture don't belong to Mesoamerica. As you may see in this map URL back in precolumbian times, Costa Rica was divided into 3 cultural realms: the Gran Nicoya or Chorotega had a mesoamerican culture, even nahuatl was spoken there. Then there was the Central region, a transition zone, where sites like Guayabo, Ta' Lari, Las Mercedes or Cutris existed. And then Gran Diquís in the southeastern portion of the country, which had a culture that related to the Intermediate Region of the Americas, where the Chibchan civilization and others existed. Thus the obvious relation of Gran Diquis great stone and gold works to what can be seen in Tierradentro, San Agustin WH sites. To give a greater detail, in this other map can be seen the distribution of the cacicazgos (chiefdoms...a strange name for me) back in the times of the spanish conquest...URL there were many subcultures for example in Gran Diquís: Turucaca, Quepóa, Coctos, Bruncas, etc. And as the spanish colonization progressed and then came the independence of the Culture, the Talamanca mountain range and the costa rican southeast were not conquered by the spaniards, thus permitting to remain several indigenous cultures in those areas of the country, as it is shown in this map of the present-day indigenous reserves URL.

It was in the 1930s that the area was fully colonized for the purpose of banana and oil palm purposes, and it was then that the Diquis spheres sites were discovered. In the conquest some indigenous towns had been visited and described by the spanish conquistadores, even one of them, for the town of Coctu, makes one think of Batambal Site, because the conqueror talks about a town built on a hilltop for protection purposes, and surrounded by a palisade. However, nothing is mentioned about stone spheres until the 1930s. Either way, the spaniards were not particularly appreciative of indigenous heritage wherever they found it, so it's great indeed that they couldn't get to fully conquer the southeastern part of the country, with the exception of two indigenous towns, Boruca and Térraba.

In the early 20th century, Costa Rican culture was thought to be central-valley-based, "white" and european-infused, so not much attention was paid to indigenous cultures, except to decry them. Even in the 1890s one of the biggest cultural debates in the country was if it could be considered subject of art an indigenous woman or not, and the conclusion was...that not. But in the 1920s to 1940s began a revision of this racist concept, artists began to paint adobe houses, sculptors began to model sculptures after indigenous models (with great scandal, at first, the reason for the great sculptor Francisco Zuñiga to leave the country and go to Mexico, when the muralismo and indigenismo were the big thing in town) and musicologists began to go to Guanacaste province to capture the folklore of the area, to the point that it was considered for a long time the standard for costa rican folklore in general. So, at less in an intelectual-sense, it began to be appreciated the culture of some of our ancestors, and of other parts of the country.

So, in that context, the Diquís sphere sites were discovered, but in that time the big interest came from archaeologists from the USA, called in by the United Fruit Company. The National Museum back them trusted that the relics found in the country could be better protected by foreigners, and in museums overseas, than in Costa Rica. The Costa Rican government had no interest in protecting some far-away indigenous sites, and thus, with time, these were looted, the stone spheres and gold objets made the way to museums across the globe, and with the founding of the 2nd Republic in 1948, and the building of the Panamerican Highway, to institutions in San Jose, private houses and so on. It was up until the 1960s that the government became interested increasingly in sistematic archaeology, through the National Museum. But this was already late for most archaeological sites in all the cultural realms in the country.

And then in the last few years the interest in this sites has been leaking, from an academic-intelectual, public institution exercise, to the general public. Not just the sites of spheres of Gran Diquis (which Jiménez Deredia and media have popularized), or Guayabo (where there is even a campaign to create a new, universal design-trail to show some of the most recent discoveries), but even small sites like these, that depicts the first exchange of culture between the spaniards and the huetar chiefdom URL in San Ramón de Alajuela.

This long introduction is just in purpose to set you a frame of why this candidacy is maybe as much a business of recognizing a heritage that once was decried, looted, vandalised as a business of promoting cultural tourism, and bigger development for the poorest area of the country, the Pacific Southeastern. And so, with the cultural diffussion the subject has had in the last years, not just in Costa Rica, but abroad, probably a historic debt is being paid. One that should have been paid in the 1930s, when most of the Gran Diquís sites were almost intact, but anyway important also for the area of the country that has the biggest percentage of people self-identified as indigenous and indigenous reserves. Perhaps in the future an effort will be also displayed for areas like the afro-caribbean culture, Guanacaste-mesoamerican infused culture, coffee and sugarcane heritage, victorian and metalic architecture, republican heritage and so on, as the declaration here by former minister Obregón states URL. That would be great, maybe not each one WH gap fillers, but perhaps could have a chance.

Author vantcj1
Partaker
#11 | Posted: 20 May 2014 21:10 | Edited by: vantcj1 
And then, on this particular candidacy. I think the best source to obtain information on Gran Diquís is the National Museum, here on "Diquis Delta Cultural Landscape" URL, probably in preparation for the initial purpose of the candidacy on an initial stage. The information on each of these links is sorrily only in spanish (and on image format, so can't be so easily translatable), but is wonderfully illustrated and gives priceless cues on what the Gran Diquis realm consisted and why the stone sphere sites are its most obvious expression, in terms of tangible heritage. For example, this on the stone estatuary URL and this on the spheres and their alignments URL, this on Finca 6 site URL, this on the conquest and colony URL, this on the plantations heritage URL and so on... like this one on ICOMOS Costa Rica URL

It shows that the archaeological work on these sites has been very consistent, and that great emphasis has been put on conservation over destructive research. That's one of the thinks that -reading the ICOMOS evaluation- make one think that this is why ICOMOS had so an open hearted attitude towards this candidacy, when compared to sites like Penjikent and Poykent from the second Silk Road Candidacy. So, ICOMOS was delighted that the sites are being managed by a single authority, that the selection of the best kept sites was made (instead of the 100-sites-in-one-candidacy approach), that this was realistic considering that most of the sites are no longer existing in their original layouts, that a good comparative analysis was conducted, that there is ongoing monitoring work to repair the movable elements (the stone spheres) and that the protective and legal frame is sound enough to guarantee conservation on a long term.

It is interesting that even when there has been a strong level of criticism of aspects surrounding the candidacy, like here from local archaeologist and ICOMOS-member, Ifigenia Quintanilla URL and here URL, ICOMOS thought that the pros were bigger than the cons. For example, in the last years the government has seized private collections, and requested the return of pieces of tangible heritage to the state, and the National Museum has been the guardian of this process. So, many stone spheres have been relocated in the Spheres Park, awaiting to be located. But it can't be established from here exactly were these spheres taken, so it is very questionable the original plan to "recreate" the original alignment in this or other parks, it would be kind of a thematic park and we know that this is not precisely appreciated by ICOMOS (with regards to Dubai Creek and others). But ICOMOS just pinpoints that when these objects have been moved to a definitive location, these should be "indicated and differenced from the alignments that are original". And in the case of the reconstruction of a "calzada" on one of the sites, ICOMOS argues that this was thankfully made under international standards.

So probably, to my, and seems that also to Ifigenia Quintanilla's own disbelief, the team from the National Museum managed to show aspects that could be considered detrimental, as good, or at least negligible. I do think that Costa Rica has excellent institutions, is creating a good corpus of knowledge on its sites, and has a sound legal frame to protect tangible heritage, but I think that there is also a long way to go in the implementation on site of these regulations. On the weakest side, the one of local regulations, Osa county doesn't have a urban-and territorial plan, and ICOMOS notes it, but it seems that the assurances from the government that such an instrument was in consultation phase, was enough as an explanation. And ICOMOS' biggest concern was on the respects of the mitigation of risks (like flooding in Finca 6) and two projects that are in planning phase, an international airport for the southeastern part of the country, and a mega hydro-power project on Térraba river, upstream from the sites. The first is thought as a way to promote development through tourism in that part of the country, and would be relatively near to Finca 6, in the alluvial plain. I think it would be the one that would most probably had a worst "Heritage Impact Assesment" as it would impact most directly the four sphere sites. The other one is seen as a high national priority, and the installations that would be close to El Silencio site would be mostly transitorial and relatively small (the dam would be like 40 km upstream).

On their recommendations, these come from asking for a more concrete local involvement, scaling the actions against risks, conducting the HIAs of those projects, and improving local participation. Those are relatively mild recommendations, not so difficult to conduct. The one about the confiscation of the property where El Silencio sits is far more important to note, as not all the properties are on the government's hands, and ICOMOS wants to avoid conflict. And at the end, ICOMOS commends the government and the managing bodies for their "restraint" in prioritizing protection and consolidation, over new excavations, or visitor promotion on all four sites. As I said back, that is probably the core aspect for which this candidacy -taking into account its initial hurdles- got finally a relatively rave review.

That would be what I can comment for now on this presumptive new WHS, from my country.

Author Solivagant
Partaker
#12 | Posted: 21 May 2014 03:25 
vantcj1:
That would be what I can comment for now on this presumptive new WHS, from my country.


Thanks for this comprehensive answer to my questions!! You have provided a very useful resource for all of us about the site, your country and of the sorts of issues which a nomination has to overcome.

Author vantcj1
Partaker
#13 | Posted: 21 May 2014 16:11 
It is always a pleasure, Solivagant.
As soon as the Batambal, Grijalba II and El Silencio sites are opened, I hope to visit them and give them a review. Finca 6 is still not fully opened, and as the ICOMOS evaluation states "the other sites are visited just by well informed tourists", so it will pass some time until the whole 4 sites can be subject to tourism. But anytime I find something that could give a little bit of insight into this site, I will keep you all informed.

WHS in the media www.worldheritagesite.org Forum / WHS in the media /
 Plenitude under the sky. Park of Pre-Colombian Stone Spheres

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