Archaeologists of the state-run Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) found an indigenous petroglyph — an image engraved on a rock — on the grounds of a geothermal project in the province of Guanacaste. The petroglyph is more than 1,000 years old.
ICE experts found the artifact earlier this month on the banks of the Blanco River, inside a property of ICE’s Las Pailas II geothermal project in Liberia, the agency reported in a news release.
They believe that the petroglyph belongs to the Bagaces Period, meaning it is from 300 to 800 A.D.
Archaeologist Ana Cristina Hernández said they found evidence that the site, along with other areas within ICE’s project, were looted by tomb raiders.
ICE officials set up a barbed wire fence to protect the area and prevent further unauthorized entrance.
The artifact appeared in a sector that archaeologists believe is part of an indigenous cemetery complex.
The petroglyph shows an image that experts say represents a hummingbird, a very important symbol for Costa Rica’s indigenous peoples. The bird was a symbol of fertility among local indigenous groups, they said.
The rock also has two compound parallel spirals, placed in opposite directions. Experts say they represent the river flows and their relationship with burial sites located along the Blanco River.
Archaeologist already unearthed and moved the rock for conservation and study with the help of experts from the National Museum, ICE confirmed.
Arturo Hernández, an archaeologist from the Pailas II Project, said that the finding and relocation of the artifact is an important part of efforts to protect the indigenous legacy in teh area.
“Above all, this is about protecting it from unscrupulous people who profit from the illicit trade of cultural property,” he said.