Everyday Use of Plants in Pre-Hispanic Costa Rica


This July, supported by a Tinker Foundation and CLAS-funded research grant, I helped excavate a house structure in Costa Rica that was preserved by the eruption of Arenal Volcano around 3,500 years ago. This archaeological site, La Chiripa, is one of the oldest known domestic structures found to date in Central America. The ancient house was discovered in 2016 by the Proyecto Prehistorico Arenal, directed by Payson Sheets and Christine Dixon. The recovery of ancient botanical remains here provides an excellent opportunity to address questions regarding the daily lives and resilience of ancient people in this region of the world. La Chiripa’s landscape has been continually inhabited for approximately 2,500 years, persevering through frequent volcanic activity. Distinct ash deposits help distinguish between periods of human occupation, with abandonments, ecological recovery, and reoccupations after each eruption. The research will provide invaluable information regarding ancient household practices, long-term residence stability, and environmental resilience in pre-Hispanic Central America.

Venicia Slotten
Publication date: 
June 4, 2019
Publication type: 
Blog Entry