Aug 22, 2009

The Liahona and the Stone Balls

A Possible Explanation for the Curious Stone Balls of Costa Rica

In the Diquis region of southwestern Costa Rica there is a unique occurrence of ancient stone spheres which has intrigued and puzzled archaeologists ever since their discovery in 1940. These stone balls are monolithic sculptures created by the early inhabitants of the Diquis region and range in size from several inches to over 10 feet in diameter. They have been

smoothed and polished and the largest one would weight approximately 16 tons. It is estimated that there are 150 to 200 of these spheres in existence. They are quite sophisticated in their technical design and construction, appearing to the eye to be perfectly round. The method of construction is unknown, however was probably similar to other stone artwork of the Central American area. The granodiorite igneous rock from which they were made, was transported from the nearby Talamancan Mountains to the coastal area where most of them were found, a distance of about 10-20 miles. Dating of the spheres has been difficult as normal dating methods are not applicable, so dating depends on the stratigraphic relationship to other datable archaeological materials. The spheres were often originally located on elevated mounds which might suggest that they were objects of worship or adoration.

I would like to suggest that these balls may be related to the ancient sacred object known as the Liahona which is described in the Book of Mormon, which is the religious history of the ancient inhabitants of Central America (1 Ne. 16:10, 2 Ne. 5:12, Mos. 1:16, Alma 37:38-40). The Liahona was an instrument which was miraculously provided to the family of Lehi to guide them in their travels across the Arabian peninsula and thence to the new world, and also to provide words and slogans of encouragement and counsel. It was described variously as a ball, compass, or director. Physically, it was a ball or sphere made of brass of "curious workmanship" and was probably about 6 inches in diameter. It would only operate properly if faith were exercised in the process, at which time it would miraculously indicate the proper direction in which the party should travel. However, the process was so simple that often the party would take it for granted, or regard it as something commonplace.
When the party completed their journeying, the Liahona ceased to function, and was thereafter kept and regarded as a sacred and symbolic object, and one of the national treasures of the people. (The other sacred treasures were the Sword of Laban and the Brass Plates of Laban.) The Liahona (along with the other sacred objects) was subsequently taken by Nephi, when he and his followers separated from his hostile brothers, Laman and Lemuel, and the main body of the people. This group, led by Nephi, became known as the Nephites, and the original body were known as Lamanites. These sacred objects where subsequently passed down through the Nephite leaders for a period of a thousand years. Laman and Lemuel were outraged that Nephi had taken these objects, which they regarded as their property by rights of inheritance, and thereafter taught their children and descendants that they had been "robbed" of their rightful property and inheritance, and that they should always hate the Nephites because of this great wrong which had been committed against them (Mos. 10:12-17, Alma 20:13). As a result, the Lamanites always regarded all Nephites as robbers, thieves and enemies, and these feeling resulted in continual warfare for almost a thousand years and the eventual destruction of the Nephite group.
Now back to the stone spheres and the Liahona. I would like to propose that the Lamanites, now bereft of their sacred treasures, created substitutes, and the substitute for the Liahona was the stone ball or sphere. These would have been made and used as a talisman or totem for families or clans. They would have had religious significance to them and may have even been worshiped and venerated. They may have even covered them with a plating of gold, copper or tumbago (an alloy of copper and gold) to give them a more realistic appearance, as the Diquis area is very mineral rich. The different size balls may have designated ranking or standing in the community.
Of course all this is merely speculation, but it is just as valid as many of the other theories which have been proposed for the stone balls, some of which are very far fetched. But if this proposal is in fact correct, the balls are located in the right area. According to my proposal for Book of Mormon geography, this area of Costa Rica would have been the original landing site and the land of their First Inheritance (Alma 22:28).

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