National Museum front view
The National Museum of Costa Rica is one of my favorite tourist attractions in San Jose. Even the building itself has a fascinating history, as it used to be military barracks! The museum is home to a variety of permanent and temporary collections, and one of the most interesting is the "Human Remains" exhibition.
Gunshots at Tower at National Museum
The exhibit is part of the National Museum's Anthropology and Archaeology section. The highlight of the exhibition is the extensive collection of human bones that were unearthed during various archaeological digs across Costa Rica. Some of these skeletons are complete, while others are missing a few bones here and there!
Many of the bones recovered during the digs date back as far as 500 BCE, making them some of the oldest human remains in Central America. The most ancient bones were found during archaeological surveys of Puntarenas and Guanacaste, and reveal how tribes lived thousands of years ago.
Death rituals and relics of the past
Once you've checked out the skeletons of the "Human Remains" exhibition, you should head over to the "Precolombina" collection.
This fascinating exhibit features the majestic rock spheres and extensive collections of pottery and ceramics recovered throughout Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua. In addition to recovered bone fragments from ancient burial sites, the collection also showcases ceremonial artifacts such as burial urns, decorative pottery and jewelry made from obsidian, jade and gold. Some of the items on display are thousands of years old, and reveal how the tribes of Central America lived between 10,000 BCE and 1500 AD.
Tower with gunshots facing the street in San Jose
The "Precolombina" collection features more than 800 items, and the exhibition is divided into three sections: Lifestyles of the Hunter Gatherers, which showcases ancient weapons and tools dating from 12,000 to 2,000 BCE; and two collections focusing on village life between 2,000-500 BCE, and from 500 BCE to 1500 AD.
Many of the artifacts on display feature flora and fauna that can be found throughout Costa Rica, including snakes, big cats and birds of prey. Anthropologists believe these creatures were a vital part of many tribal and spiritual rituals, and the collection also features items of ceremonial and ritualistic importance, offering visitors a fascinating glimpse into how the tribes of Costa Rica lived thousands of years ago.
These are just two of the National Museum's remarkable collections, and if you're planning to visit the capital of San Jose, a tour of the museum is well worth it.
National Museum and plaza in San Jose