Pre-Columbian times in Boruca

~ by Susie Atkinson

The Diquís delta, just south of Costa Ballena, is one of the most important deltas of Central America from the biological and cultural perspective. 

We will discuss the cultural aspect. “Diquís” in the native dialect of the Teribe (Térraba indigenous) means “great water”. The Valley of Diquís is bordered to the north by the Grand Térraba river (the largest in Costa Rica), to the east by the Talamanca range, the Osa peninsula to the south, the Bay of Coronado to the west on the Pacific (named after Spanish explorer Juan Vázquez de Coronado, 1563), and at the heart of the delta is the Sierpe river. Archeologists found evidence of this area being populated as far back as 1500 BC.

Between 1500 BC and 300 BC, there was basic tribal living centered on family relations of kinship. 

From 300 BC to 800 AD, gradual changes to chiefdom organization began with a chief, religious leaders, specialized artisans, and stronger territorial divisions and exchange networks. From 800 AD until the Spanish arrival in 1500s, villages increased in size and complexity. Ceramic, bone, gold, and stone objects expressed power and status of the ruling groups. Sculpture reached its greatest development during this period, featuring the stone spheres placed in important zones of the village reinforcing the power of religious and political leaders. 

Pre-Columbian times in Boruca - Osa, Uvita, Costa Ballena - Ballena Tales

On a sub-regional level, an entire communication system permitted the exchange of products from the coast to the high lands between the different extended chiefdom communities.

The Térraba river and its tributaries were used, covering over 900 hectares. 

Hence, both the Boruca (Rey Curré) and Térraba indigenous became dugout canoe builders, traversing the grand river with crops and animals, and to the Pacific coast where the Borucans gathered the murex sea snail for their purple dye. The canoes were seaworthy, which became very valuable with the arrival of the conquistadors.

To be continued in the next issue of Ballena Tales.

INFO: Susie Atkinson – Boruca Gallery Gift Shop

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