While preparing the earth for planting, the family discovered stones with carvings, pottery, and tools that led to a larger exploration of the area by archaeologists. The area is thought to have been an important town and ceremonial site for a culture that flourished here between 300-600 B.C. From artifacts such as human sized statues that have been unearthed, the people who lived here are thought to have had African or Asian ancestors.
An ancient tomb has been discovered on the premises with urns that held cremated ashes. One can actually walk down three meters into the tomb and see pottery and urns still encased in the earthen walls. Many of the larger statues and ceremonial tables can be seen in the Reina Torres de Araúz Museum in Panama City, while a plethora of artifacts still remain housed in an on-site museum. One of the most fascinating pieces sits exposed to the elements as it has for thousands of years: a magnetic stone engraved with a map of the area. The map has been studied using GPS technology and shows to be an accurate diagrammatic representation of the site’s situation in relation to Volcán Baru, other ancient towns, and both coasts.
The area is simply magical and holds a feeling of peace. Bring a swimsuit if you are interested in taking a dip in the cool spring that leads to a stream flowing uphill for over one kilometer to the Chiriqui River. Also bring a water bottle to fill from the spring that is the perfect temperature for drinking and is 99% pure water.
To get there, go through the center of Volcán on the road to Rio Sereno. There’s a blue sign on the left, just before the Ortega Panderia. Turn left and keep going for about 6 kilomenters. The entrance to Sitio Barriles is on the right.
Contact info for Sitio Barilles (open form sunup to sundown):
Edna Landau Telephone: 507-6575-1828