In the area, four graves, multiple clay pots and a gold earring was found.
- Fideicomiso photo -


Published Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Pre-Hispanic cemetery found in Heredia

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The archaeological evaluation carried out in the first of the areas under reconstruction on the road so-called General Cañas Highway, between San José Province and San Ramón Canton, discovered a cemetery dating from the period before the arrival of Columbus to the continent.

The pre-Hispanic era commonly referred to as the pre-Columbian era, incorporates all period subdivisions in the history of the Americas before the appearance of significant European influences on the American continent, spanning the time of the original settlement in the Upper Paleolithic period to European colonization during the Early Modern period.

The historian Ana Maria Botey Sobrado, in her book "Costa Rica: from autochthonous societies to 1914," details how before the arrival of the Spaniards to America, the original inhabitants of Costa Rica numbered some 400,000 people scattered throughout the country, most of them located in the North Pacific and the Central Valley. "Of all the existing ethnic groups, the Huetares were the most powerful and best organized indigenous nation in Costa Rica when the Spanish arrived," Botey said.

Christopher Columbus arrived in the territory of present-day Costa Rica on September 25, 1502. It was his fourth trip from Europe to the Americas.

According to archaeologists in the area, four graves, multiple clay pots and a gold earring was found.

During the initial land removal work for the construction of the highway expansion in May, workers from the Fideicomiso company in charge of the construction found a stone path that was presumed to have been built-in the pre-Hispanic period. Once confirmed, Law No.6703 entitled “Law on National Archaeological Heritage” activated the guideline for the protection of national heritage.

From that moment, the National Museum of Costa Rica took control of two sites and asked the company to hire professional archaeologists to develop the evaluations of the pre-Hispanic objects found.

According to archaeologists, the preliminary results of the study confirm that in the so-called zone 1, where the stone path was found, was built before the arrival of Christopher Columbus. After a more detailed archaeological study, it was discovered that it is a more modern road, built by the former owner of that land to expedite the transportation of coffee.

Also, the specialist found in the so-called zone 2, four tombs, two clay pots and a gold bird-shaped earring.

A study sampling was carried out with excavations of wells separated by 5 meters and the result led to the finding of the cemetery. The specialist continues with a more detailed analysis in this zone.

According to the archaeologist Magdalena León, the site is classified as a multi-component. It was used by people during several periods, which explains why elements dating from different eras have been found, such as the pre-hispanic era as periods of the colonial era.

“That is why the excavation that has been carried out meticulously to be able to distinguish adequately those periods in a land of more than 100 hectares,” Leon said.

According to the construction company, none of the archaeological zones affects the design of the road.

"The construction company will be able to continue with the works once the National Archaeological Commission lifts the temporary suspension of these sites under study," Alejandro Araya, environmental supervisor of Fideicomiso said.

Authorities of the National Museum authorized the resumption of work on the site of zone 1, while zone 2 is still analyzed by specialists.

Should the road construction be stopped until an investigation of the total area of the archaeological zone is finished?  We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to