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Lost Kingdoms of Central America episode 3 - Between Oceans and Empires

Lost Kingdoms of Central America episode 3

Lost Kingdoms of Central America episode 3: Dr Jago Cooper explores the forgotten people of ancient Costa Rica, who built a series of spectacular settlements amongst the rivers and volcanoes. Dr Jago Cooper explores the rise and fall of the forgotten civilisations of Central America. His quest takes him from from the crystal blue seas of the Caribbean to the New World’s most impressive pyramids, flying over the smoking volcanoes of Costa Rica and travelling deep underground in the caves of central Mexico.



 

 

He travels in the footsteps of these peoples to reveal their secrets and unearth the astonishing cultures that flourished amongst some of the most dramatic landscapes in the world. In this episode, Jago explores the forgotten people of ancient Costa Rica, who built a series of spectacular settlements amongst the rivers and volcanoes of Central America and whose enigmatic legacy – including hundreds of mysterious, giant stone spheres – is only now being unravelled by archaeologists.

 

Lost Kingdoms of Central America episode 3 – Between Oceans and Empires

 

The oldest evidence of human occupation in Costa Rica is associated with the arrival of groups of hunter-gatherers about 10,000 to 7,000 years BC, with ancient archaeological evidence (stone tool making) located in the Turrialba Valley, at sites called Guardiria and Florence, with matching quarry and workshop areas with presence of type clovis spearheads and South American inspired arrows. All this suggests the possibility that in this area two different cultures coexisted.

The people of this era were nomadic. They were organized in family-based bands of about 20 to 30 members. Their diet consisted of megafauna, such as giant armadillos and sloths, mastodons, etc. These became extinct about 8,000 years before the modern era. The first settlers had to adapt to hunting smaller animals and develop appropriate strategies to adjust to the new conditions.

In Pre-Columbian times, the native peoples in what is now Costa Rica were divided in two cultural areas due to its geographical location in the Intermediate Area, between the Mesoamerican and the Andean cultural regions.

The northwest of the country, the Nicoya Peninsula, was the southernmost point of Mesoamerican cultural influence when the Spanish conquerors came in the sixteenth century. The Nicoya culture was the largest cacicazgo on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. The central and southern portions of the country belonged to the Isthmo-Colombian cultural area with strong Muisca influences, as these were part of territories occupied predominantly by speakers of the Chibchan languages. The Diquis culture flourished from 700 CE to 1530 CE and were well known for their crafts in metal and stonework.

The indigenous people have influenced modern Costa Rican culture to a relatively small degree. In the years soon after European encounter, many of the people died due to infectious diseases, such as measles and smallpox, which were endemic among the Europeans but to which they had no immunity.

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Lost Kingdoms of Central America episode 3 - Between Oceans and Empires
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Lost Kingdoms of Central America episode 3 - Between Oceans and Empires: Dr Jago Cooper explores the forgotten people of ancient Costa Rica

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