Precolumbian period
XVI century
XVII century
XVIII century
XIX century
XX century
XXI century

HISTORY: Precolumbian period

Indians living B.C.

It`s believed that the first humans reached Costa Rica about 10.000 years B.C. At the beginning they were hunters and gatherers, and later in years 8000-4000 B.C. the nomadic groups, that started settling and cultivating the ground. Among others in the period 4000-1000 B.C., Costa Rica thanks to its position was a bridge between two civilizations: Mesoamerican and Andes. The migration of that progresive cultures was limited by high mountains and swamped valleys. Indians from atlantic coast regions cultivated tubers (the influence of South America), and Indians from Pacific coast were specialized in grains and vegetables cultivating: beans and corns (the North America influence). The developing of agriculture was conducive to nomadic tendences. Hand-made objects got popularity too.

Indians in the year 500 BC

According to the diggings made by archeologists in Lepanto Mangroves in Gulf of Nicoya, in the year of 500 BC, Costa Rica were settled farmers who used stone tools to prepare their food. They were short, their height was around 1.61 meters , and their life expectancy was 25 to 30 years.

Arrival of Quepoa Indians

Around 950 A.C., in the place of today Manuel Antonio National Park, Quepo tribe were settling down. Probably they come from the vicinity of one of Amazon river sources in Peru. They lived generally at the mouth of Rio Naranjo. They were considered to be the most feared tribe in America and one of the best world divers. They caught turtles in traps in the beaches and jumped to the water with the stone on the chest (down even to 20 - 25 mts) to gather the pearls. Their tribal shamans lived in a caves on the small Mogote island off the shore.

Life of Indians in Guanacaste

More or less in 1100, Indians from Guanacaste, extracted the salt in Bahia and Culebra Bays. They carried on religious ceremonies. They paid attention on sculpting in stones and jades and making nets, hammocks and cross-bows.

The social hierarchy with caciques

In the period of 800 - 1550 Indians caciques had almost absolute power. Each tribe led by cacigue shared in primitive exchange of goods. They traded in salt, cocoa, featheres of Quetzals and natural dyes.

Metalworks and marble stones

Around 1400, Indians in the south-east part of Costa Rica (which was called Diquis) make the metal objects in the shapes of human and animal figures. They used the techniques characteristic for the tribes from the northern regions of Central America. They were also responsible for the famous big perfectly spherical granite balls found in large numbers in south-west Costa Rica.

Before Columbus arrival

Before Columbus arrival, central and carribbean regions of Costa Rica were inhabited by Huetar tribes that came from Amazonland. In North-West part of the country, in XVI century, Chorotegas tribes (descendants of Aztecs from Mexico) have been settled. They are the most southern part of Mesoamerica Culture. Their name means "running people". They developed towns with central squares. They had a land organization system as well as slavery and a hierarchical religion. They were experts in producing highly developed ceramics and manufacturing of beautiful jade and ceramic pieces, that show Nahuatl civilization influences. They developed very good agricultural system based on bean, corn and pumpkin cultivation. They use the calendar and could write on deerskin parchment. Their stone tables - matates, that were used for crushing corn-cobs are presented in National Museum.

The southern part of Costa Rica were inhabited by Chibcha or Brunca Indian tribes that came from Colombia. They were nomadic worriors, who raised yucca, pejibayes and coca. They lived in communal village huts surrounded by fortified palisades. Their women were the only Indian women, who took part in wars. Due to their cruelty, they were called "Costa Rica`s Amazons".

Precolumbian "Costa Ricans" practiced paying sacrifices. In order to damp volcanoes anger, virgins were being thrown into their craters. Some of Indians were also cannibals. They ate people corpses during religious ceremonies.

Other Indian tribes visits

The North-West part of Costa Rica have been for a long time a site of meeting for many precolumbian cultures from Central and South America. The most frequently, representatives of Indian tribes from Ecuador come to Nicoya peninsula coast by boats. The proofs of that facts are pieces of ceramics dug out by archeologists in XX century that had significal features of Ecuadorian weres. In that excavations, naked men and women figures have been often found.

There are also clear traces of visits other tribes, that lived on the terrains to the North from Costa Rica. The Nicoya peninsula was especially visited by noted for travelling Olmecs. Typical for them stone tables for crushing meals and pieces of figures with gnarled heads and teeth give evidence of that.

2004; SLUPSK; Rafal Cezary Piechocinski