Below the grassy parking area where the majority of the stone artifacts were on display I crawled into a cool, tiny sandy nook.

The hole at the edge of El Sitio Barilles was made into a cave by the dangling roots of bright green bamboo stands that teetered overhead. I was looking at the layer of black volcanic sand that had covered the village of Barriles many hundreds of years ago. That is when Edna told my friend Maria-Elena about the UFO she had seen over the volcano forty-some years before.

“We saw it just out there,” she said. “One afternoon when all the family was together my mother shouted ‘Look! Look at that huge light!’ And we saw a light that was coming down. It was round like a ship and it was spinning. We waited for it to fall but it didn’t. From the ship came a giant light, like a bulb, which lit the ground all around…and then it waited and waited and then it went straight up into the air.”

She clapped her hands and pointed to the sky. “This is an important place.”


travel in panama


The road to the site runs out of Volcán into the Chiriquí highlands and wends west towards the Costa Rican border up into bright green hills on the flanks of the Barú volcano. There the fences are alive, made of various species of trees and bushes, purple, white and red flowers drape the roadside and men with machetes fade in and out of the patches of cloud forest that remain.

The road is potholed and narrow and run by careening dump trucks so weighed down with sand and gravel that their tires were pancaking. I was tense the whole way, sure Maria-Elena’s little white Hyundai was going to crack an axle. She didn’t seem terribly concerned.

“Panama. Love it or leave it,” she said when I cringed at a large truck headed our way.

Travel in Panama, could be a little nerve-wracking.

Edna is right.  Barriles is an important place. But not because of UFOs. Barriles is one of the better-known archaeological sites in Panama and I found that it was the type of place that offered some insite on how archaeological travel in panamaheritage might be preserved by travel in Panama.

The site was named for several stone barrels found on the site in the late 1920s. It is reasonably assumed based on the limited research done at the site that the people of Barriles, numbering more than 1000 individuals, were divided into  upper class, middle class, and lower class. Around 600 or 700 AD Barriles hosted a far higher population than any other site in the region and was possibly a ceremonial center whose activities drew people from the dozens of sites dotting Chiriquí valley and the slopes of the Talamanca cordillera.

Maria-Elena and I had crossed the mountains from the town of Boquete, where we had spent a few days hiking in the cloud forest, to reach Barriles. As a ex-archaeologist still passionate about the past I had long heard of the famous site and insisted that we see it. It feels difficult for me to really understand a place without understanding how people have moved across, settled and interacted with the landscape in the past. Maria-Elena was happy to oblige.

While driving we got lost among all the green pastures and Swiss-looking farmhouses of the highlands. The freshly-paved road dipped straight down into and then climbed straight back up the other side of every little river coming down off the cordillera. At every crossroad waited someone with an eager smile and a slightly-off set of directions.

It took us far longer to reach Barriles than we had planned.

Edna met us in front of the farmhouse next to a replica of a four-foot stone statue found on the site whose authentic counterpart was now hidden away in a Panama City museum. She wore a red sweater and a free-flowing skirt that gave her a carefree aspect, which she soon dispelled by telling us that she was just a little bit stressed.

“You’re late,” she said.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “Are you expecting someone else?”


travel in panama

~ ~ ~

Edna Houx is the matriarch of the site and manages it for Panamanians and others who travel in Panama under an agreement with the National Institute of Culture. The northwest portion of the settlement lies on the property of her family farm. The rest of the site rolls away towards the volcano under Holstein-dominated pastures owned by a number of other families.

Edna is convinced, despite what archaeologists say, that the site was populated by an advanced race of Africans and Asians; she took me immediately from the porch and pointed to the statue as proof. One of the men, she assured us, had African facial features, while the other was “obviously” Asian.

travel in panama

“They were not Indians. They were not native people from the area. It was a special group that was here. Everything here is different from everything else in the region. Now, look at this,” and she pointed at a large stone near some berry bushes.

A squat bus pulled in next to our car and a bunch of Panamanian teenage girls spilled out and milled about in confusion, pasting on lipstick, checking cell phones and kicking at the gravel. Their teacher was fiddling with a folder and trying to pass out photocopies.

“Hey.” Edna poked my arm to call my attention back towards the stone. It was a five-foot tall polished anthracite. “People come here to be healed by this rock. Pay attention.”

And then there was the Ark of the Covenant, she announced. “They found it in Panama,” she said.

“The Ark of the Covenant?” I blurted and started to laugh. I could see for her, however, it wasn’t a laughing matter. She was serious. I wiped the smile clean off my face.

“These were ancient civilizations that came from very far away. If you don’t pay attention now you will get confused.”

No kidding. I was confused. The Barriles story was turning out to be one of UFOs, healing monoliths, ancient Chinese and African immigrants and, now Raiders of the Lost Ark?  As Edna went on, I wondered what was coming next. I was feeling a desperate urge to talk to an actual scientist.

She explained that Barriles was settled nearly 3000 years ago by two trans-oceanic groups of people who knew the secret healing powers of stones, one African and one Asian. A giant volcanic eruption wiped them out—and then came the Mayan invaders.

That was what was coming next.

“Mayan invaders?”

“Yes. Of course!”

It was clear that Barriles, as it is known to Edna, is troublingly different from the one researchers know.

~ ~ ~

Besides the large farmhouse, the modern site sports a small display of maps and blown-up photocopies of old research journals and National Geographic Society magazines housed under a tin roof. Further west, among rows of stone artifacts, Edna led us down a ladder dropping about 7 feet underground into what appeared to me to be a fake rectangular excavation pit. Whole ceramic pots stuck half way out of the dirt walls that were green with the growth of small lichens.  The perfection of it gave the feel of a museum display.

She walked us out to look at the excavation area left by a German team in 2001.

Then she took us to a tiny, one-roomed slightly problematic museum sheltered by bamboo. Problematic because the roof barely kept out the rain. Problematic because a large number of the artifacts on display simply don’t come from Barriles and are not even from the same time period as the Barriles she was showing us in the excavation pit.


travel in panama

Museum Closed – All of Them

It was obvious to me that there was more going on that just the story of Edna and Barriles.  The archaeological site she was showing Maria-Elena and I was clearly an important place and yet it was privately run by Edna’s family, ridiculously under-funded and grossly misinterpreted by the well-meaning matriarch. I wondered if and how Barriles might be representative of the challenges of archaeological research and preservation in the entire country.

Nancito was another example.

Several days before visiting Barriles, Maria-Elena and I were cruising the hot and raucous Pan-American Highway along the coast southeast of the city of David when I saw a little road to the right that appeared to be the one on my map.  I pointed at it.

“Archaeology?” She asked.  I nodded.

We exited the highway and she pointed the car up one of those bewilderingly steep roads where you can’t see the pavement in front of your car and it is impossible to know what is over the hill or around the corner. We looked at each other and gritted our teeth.  Actually I think it was just me gritting my teeth.  She didn’t seem so bothered.

“Panama.  Love it or leave it.”

Our target was a 1500-year-old rock-art site towering above the Pacific Ocean known as Nancito.

There were some huts by the side of the road as the Hyundai slowly climbed the hill. There was a man smoking, looking at the sea, and a little girl sitting on a ragged-looking horse. She wore a Dora the Explorer backpack. A woman stood closer to the road holding an umbrella. Maria-Elena stopped and I asked if we were going the right way. The woman shrugged. The man didn’t bother to look my way. The girl hugged the horse’s neck.  We drove on.

At the end of the road sat the whitewashed Nancito Archaeological Museum. It was closed. Frustrated we wandered the fenced perimiter and I shot what photos I could of the rock art with my telephoto lens through the fence. Not sure what else to do, we cracked a cold beer from the cooler in the trunk and drove down the hill and back out onto the highway towards David.

travel in panama

Archaeology Travel in Panama 

Both Nancito and Barriles speak to the dual challenges of preservation and interpretation of archaeological resources in Panama for the general public—not to mention the ability to generate income for preservation and further research through archaeological tourism.

I wanted to talk to an expert on Panamanian archaeology.

“Even though the archaeology of the country is fascinating, the vast majority of research and museums and such are all concentrated in or near the canal and deal with the Colonial period. So, in many respects, Barriles is all there is for people interested in visiting a site in Chiriquí,” Dr. Scott Palumbo of the College of Lake County in Illinois told me. “There used to be a small museum in David—which still exists—but is closed due to lack of funding.”

Just like Nancito.  Barriles on the other hand only stays open to the public thanks to the force of Edna’s will.

Many of the statues and tools from Barriles are on display in the Museo Antropológico Reina Torres de Araúz in Panama City. Many more sit in crates in the museum basement. Other important archaeological objects, including some impressive rock carvings pilfered from sites throughout the western provinces, are housed at the small museum in Los Santos. Thats closed too.

Barriles is one of only three archaeological sites regularly accessible to visitors. The others are El Caño in Central Panama and Panama Viejo. One site dating from 500-1400AD is located on Isla Palenque is protected by an eco resort and can be visited by tourists to the island.

While Panama has become adept at delivering white sandy beaches, palm-tree laced islands and bountiful birding tours to the growing numbers of tourists arriving on its shores it seemed to me to be neglecting another valuable resource. Its past. Does the ancient offer another form of both rural economic development and access to tight research funds?

I think it might.

travel in panama

Well….Its Complicated…

“I want to leave something for the future of Panama by protecting our past,” Edna told us when we arrived at Barriles. “The government doesn’t care anything about archaeology in Panama. They just want money. I have to do something here.”

There is a complication in Edna’s relationship with the ancient history under her pastures. She operates as somewhat of a rogue, delivering not-quite-accurate information to visitors and hosting questionably-obtained artifacts of which the authorities aren’t quite approving. And yet without her, Barriles would not get the protection and exposure it deserves.

“Edna does do a lot for the archaeology of the area. She freely stores my artifacts, a function a museum often provides. Even if I disagree with some of her claims, many people do walk away from her property even more appreciative of archaeology than when they started, and that has tremendous value,” Dr. Palumbo told me. “I think she does a nice job sharing archaeology with people and deserves commendation for her efforts.”

I agree.  On top of that archaeology travel in Panama could be a valuable tool both for economic development and preservation of archaeological resources.

travel in panama

~ ~ ~

It was getting late already when we left Barriles and started down the road to the coast. We should have stayed the night in Volcán. And maybe the next day too.  The highlands of Chiriquí is the type of place I could be happily lost for weeks at a time. And I wanted more time to talk to Edna.

Back out on the Pan-American Highway, evening came early as smoke from the burning cane fields settled over a nearly endless stream of Spanish-owned in-and-out motels for the philandering adult, billboards pointing towards brand-spanking new beachfront resorts and tractor trailer rigs barreling up and down the highway, blasting their horns as a warning. They didn’t bother to slow down if cars didn’t clear out of the way. A giant pink rig flew by.  I gasped.

“Panama.  Love it or leave it,” Maria-Elena smiled.

Night fell as we took turns pushing the little white Hyundai southeast towards the sky-scraping condos and jungle of roadways that is modern Panama City.

~ ~ ~

If you go:

Sitio Barriles is located on the Road to Cazán, 6 km south of Volcán, open daily 8am-5pm. Phone: 507.6575.1828. Cost: free but donation encouraged. Edna will soon have a website ready that will take donations.  I will announce it here and encourage you to consider a donation to her efforts.

travel in panama



  1. Comment by Irene Butler

    Irene Butler Reply June 4, 2013 at 11:29 pm

    Great story! Anything archaeological and I'm there!

    • Comment by Jim O'Donnell

      Jim O'Donnell Reply June 5, 2013 at 1:14 pm

      hahahaha. I totally agree Irene!

  2. Comment by Linda

    Linda Reply June 5, 2013 at 3:21 am

    Fascinating. I’m guessing that happens elsewhere too; that leaving of history in the hands of folk who care, but are perhaps not educated enough to be able to handle it perfectly, and yet at least its something. I think it happends here too. It’s only to be hoped that nothing important is lost in the efforts.

    • Comment by Jim O'Donnell

      Jim O'Donnell Reply June 8, 2013 at 8:46 am

      Yes. I think there is a solvable problem there. There should be a public effort to both support the passionate caretaker, better protect the resource, educate the caretaker and make the site more available to the public. I think there is some win-win possibilities in there.

  3. Comment by Suzy

    Suzy Reply June 9, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    Great story! I guess archaeology is nothing without a little myth sprinkled in by people like Edna.

    • Comment by Jim O'Donnell

      Jim O'Donnell Reply June 11, 2013 at 1:45 pm

      Suzy, thanks for dropping by and thank you for the share on your stumbles. Its funny, ancient history is fascinating enough without all the myth…the strong human need to nonetheless plaster everything with myth is fascinating itself!

  4. Comment by Jess

    Jess Reply June 15, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    I had some of the same thoughts at sights I saw in Chile, even though the situation isn’t as bad there. I keep wanting to see everything taken away and stored in nice, safe, climate controlled museums. . . but at the same time, I know I don’t have the right to make that call.

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  6. Comment by Jonathan Quiel

    Jonathan Quiel Reply October 9, 2013 at 11:43 am

    Increíble pero lo mas penoso es que miles de personas asistente a Sitios Barriles y se llevan un idea errada del pasado precolombino.

  7. Comment by Jonathan Quiel

    Jonathan Quiel Reply October 9, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    Jean-Sébastien Pourcelot Sitiosyesferas del Diquís Geissel Vargas Yahaira Núñez Cortés

  8. Comment by Tomas Enrique Mendizabal Archibold

    Tomas Enrique Mendizabal Archibold Reply October 9, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Patético y vergonzoso Jonathan. El subdesarrollo lo tenemos en la cabeza, bien asumido. Es Macondo.

  9. Comment by Jim O'Donnell

    Jim O'Donnell Reply October 9, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    Jonathan, creo que este es un problema muy común en todo del mundo. Después de trabajar durante años en el suroeste de los Estados Unidos como arqueólogo siempre estoy sorprendido por lo mal informado es la población general !

  10. Comment by Jonathan Quiel

    Jonathan Quiel Reply October 9, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    Yo siento que esta familia ha sido influida por ideas de otras personas creando un super espectáculo. Existen muchas cosas indebidas en ese lugar pero la culpa es parte del INAC también.

  11. Comment by Adrian Mora

    Adrian Mora Reply October 9, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    guaoo, vaya alguien tiene que decirle a Indy, que en Barriles esta el Arca de la Alianza, jaja, Esto da pena ajena.

  12. Comment by Geissel Vargas

    Geissel Vargas Reply October 9, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    Es triste pero es algo que pasa en todo lado, fomentado aún por programas de televisión que venden este tipo de ideas, creo además que es un reto para los investigadores en arqueología en cuanto a la difusión de la información, nada se hace con los datos en los informes, debe salir a la calle, a las escuelas y especialmente a las familias que tienen recursos arqueológicos en sus propiedades

  13. Comment by Jorge Belgrave

    Jorge Belgrave Reply December 19, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    Jim O’Donnell, excellent discussion on the ‘archaeology finds in Panama’. My heart is glad to read “you think that there are possibilities…” meaning to help with any and all necessary preservation of an “ANCIENT WORLD CIVILIZATION, THAT IS OBVIOUSLY LINKED WITH SOUTH AMERICA AND NORTH AMERICA.” The monoliths with the two (2) men with obvious African profiles, are common in the ancient history of “Colombia/Ecuador – south eastward” AND “Costa Rica and Nicaragua -west ward.” The authentic date is more likely 20,000 to 10,000 BCE – concurrent with the “Petro glyph under a cliff overhang in Wyoming County, West Virginia – which has been identified as an ancient Celtic Ogam inscription by a well-known diffusionist Barry Fell.

    The “Ogam Writing System” is NOT Celtic in origin, that is to say… “Ogam Writing System originated with the Igbo Ethnic group in southeast Nigeria.” See for yourself: Reference – Igbo Ogam ancient writing system – Professor Catherine Acholonu.

    In the same region of Chiriqui / Bocas del Toro there are many “ancient petro glyphs” also writing the “ancient igbo Ogam writing system” – The original settlers of the Iberian Peninsula, England, Scotland, Ireland where ancient Central and West Africans.

    There’s lots of digging to do all over our planet, in the Americas and Africa. Personally, I was born in Panama and I am of African descent, and proudly regard myself as an Americanist. The existent idiosyncracies to view so-called blacks only as slaves, before Adam and Eve… in most matters is psychiatry. It is symptomatic of “miss-information and miss-education,” the pathology is reversible with the truth; adequate, proper, and correct information. Knowledge and know authentically who we are and why we are.

    O’Donnell, muchisimas gracias por su esfuerzo. Estoy dispuesto a cooperar.

    • Comment by Jim O'Donnell

      Jim O'Donnell Reply January 8, 2014 at 10:14 am

      Definately. Especially for a nerd like me. An archaeological tour of Central America is definately in the plans.

  14. Comment by Greg

    Greg Reply February 23, 2014 at 9:51 am

    Just visited the site last week. Edna’s knowledge and reverence for the site and the people is astounding. Sites like this don’t exist anywhere in the states. Where else can you put your hands on 2000 year old artifacts and walk into archaeological digs without boundaries? Edna mentioned that there is a grass roots effort to establish a foundation to promote and preserve the site. Has there been any news or updates about the establishment of the aforementioned website, Jim?

    • Comment by Jim O'Donnell

      Jim O'Donnell Reply February 25, 2014 at 12:40 pm

      Greg! Great to know that you just came from there. I have not heard anything more about her website nor the foundation. I look around the web about once and month and have asked her about it. But I havent heard anything. I would argue one point. We do in fact have many, many sites like this in the states. The difference you’re thinking about is that the big ones that people go to are, thankfully, regulated. Like Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon, Cahokia. If we let people wander around there at will those places would get destroyed very fast. I’d like to see Barriles more extensively studied and also would like to see it better protected. I agree tho that Edna’s love for the place is clear.

  15. Comment by Jim O'Donnell

    Jim O'Donnell Reply April 23, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    Geissel V. Madrigal Creo que tienes toda la razon Geissel.

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  17. Comment by Tikva Looijen

    Tikva Looijen Reply March 4, 2015 at 5:00 pm

    Great story just what i was looking for. Just back from panama I wasconfused as well by the stories at barilles. Frustrated also both el nancito, el cano and the museum in panama city are now closed and we cou;dn't find our when they are open. Even tried el cano on to different days. So nothing much had changed since your visits. Too bad would have loved to learn more about panama's pre colombian past.

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  19. Comment by David M. Fishlow

    David M. Fishlow Reply April 1, 2016 at 11:25 am

    I live just 4 km east of (that is, “on the way to”) the sitio Barriles, and have been there many times. The critique offered in this article is valid, and the steady deterioration of the site is a source of chagrin to many. I was, however, troubled by the rather condescending references to driving on our local road, which is yes, full of potholes, and at the time of this author’s writing congested by heavy trucks carrying materials for the construction a hydroelectric dam nearby, but it is not all that primitive: it was, in fact, built in 1994 by the US National Guard Corps of Engineers. The “I lived a thrilling adventure driving 6 km from a large town to a nearby farm” style of writing is common enough, but a few potholes and some trucks are not that big a deal! As for you superior treatment of “Edna,” who is, after all la Sra. Edna Houx de Landau, she and her husband, have been burdened by heavy family medical expenses for many years and by personal tragedy, but they are kind and generous people who simply lack the resources to maintain the museum as it should be. If she was peeved because you were late, you should understand that in 1913 she was burdened by heavy home-nursing-care responsibilities and the impossibility of working out a rational schedule when demanding tourists could show up at any hour of any day.

    Yes the talks given by this hostess get a little garbled, but considering the educational resources available to rural dwellers in Chiriquí 30 or 40 years ago, they have done an astonishing job of mastering the material, despite the UFO’s and the contention that the local indigenous population was not AmerIndian. At one time, National Geographic, anthropologists from here in Panama, and the Panamanian government were actively interested in supporting the site, but at the moment it is a forgotten little place. The “Barriles,” incidentally were not barrels, as you say, but rather cylindrical solid-stone shapes about the size of what used to be called a nail keg, and their use is uncertain. I have always wondered if they might not have been rolled around on a threshing floor, or perhaps they were just stools for sitting on when set on end. I understand that some Barriles artifacts deposited in the National Anthropologic Museum were looted during the Noriega years. Mr. and Mrs. Landau have organized a foundation for its support but it has not gotten off the ground as a fund-raising effort. Any positive suggestions on fertile contacts among anthropologists or folks with museum experience who might be able to offer practical advice would be deeply appreciated, I am sure by Mrs Houx-Landau and her husband, Don ´José Landau, who is (in his “day job”) a local manger of our Agricultural Development Bank here. They deserve better than being written about as local curiosities.

    • Comment by Jim O'Donnell

      Jim O'Donnell Reply April 1, 2016 at 12:15 pm

      David, thank you so much for your comments and insight about Barriles. The day I drove to Barriles the road was in such shockingly terrible condition that it was in fact noteworthy. My intention was not to be “condescending” but rather to report it as I saw it. There were more than a few potholes and more than a few large trucks. Even my friend, a Panamanian, was stunned by the condition of the road. Those 6km were so memorable that we still joke about it. And believe me, being from New Mexico, I know bad roads. Ours are literally falling apart. 🙂

      Also, I dont feel that my writing was condescending about Edna nor the work she is doing. In fact, after re-reading the post just now I find just the opposite. Again, I wanted to show what I saw…what I encountered and what I heard in the most accurate what possible. Important to me was showing that the site is a mix of contraditictions. Edna is performing a very valuable service that honestly she shouldnt have to do but does from the goodness of her own heart and that is priceless. She is also giving very wrong information about the site and her family has a reputation in the area of lifting from other sites. I do not know if that is true and I make no accusation but it was mentioned to me several times.

      The point of the article is to demonstrate the sorry state of archaeological preservation in Panama, a country rich in history. Edna deserves both kudos and support for her perservation work. At the same time the inadequacies of preservation in Panama need to be pointed out as do the scientifically unsupported stories that she tells.

      Again, thank you for your comment.

  20. Comment by Rev Betsy Salunek

    Rev Betsy Salunek Reply May 5, 2016 at 6:29 pm

    My husband and I are most interested in seeing this site and the Ark of the Covenant spoken of in Archaeology Digest but can’t find anything about how to find these sites. Can you help please?

    • Comment by Jim O'Donnell

      Jim O'Donnell Reply May 6, 2016 at 9:26 pm

      Rev Salunek,

      This site is easily found using the internet. If you continue to struggle, let me know and I can give you detailed instructions. But the Ark…well…that just doesnt exist. It is fantasy. So. Good luck!

  21. Comment by Betsy

    Betsy Reply May 7, 2016 at 7:12 am

    Was the article from Archaeology Digest made up? What about Sitio Barriles Museum? Nancito Archaeological Museum? Are either one open to the public? Detailed instructions would be most welcome. Thank you!

    • Comment by Jim O'Donnell

      Jim O'Donnell Reply May 8, 2016 at 8:31 am

      Betsy, the Ark of the Covenant is in no way associated with Barriles and its sad that anyone would publish such silliness. I’ll leave it at that. I do not know what hours Nancito and Barriles are open but my impression is that the hours are quite random and unreliable. Both sites are easy to find and on most maps. I put a phone number at the end of the post so that you could call Barriles. That was the most accurate phone number I have. Please let me know how your exploration goes!

  22. Comment by Aron

    Aron Reply June 30, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    Hi Jim,

    first of all I want to comment regarding the Ark of the Covenant discovered in Volcan Baru. If you see this video you can see where the Ark was discovered and you can also see the footage of the Ark of the Covenant. The video is

  23. Comment by ARON

    ARON Reply August 1, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    Dear Jim,

    an anthropologist by the name of Dr. Maria Rosario recentley visited Sitio Barriles and on her visit she explains that the tomb where the Ark of the Covenant was discovered is not far away from the Sitio Barriles. I believe that there are a few places around the vicinity of the town Volcan that are close to the Sitio Barriles where ancient artifacts have been found as well. You can see the Sitio Barriles and the tomb where the Ark of the Covenant was found on this video link at

  24. Comment by David Fishlow

    David Fishlow Reply August 2, 2016 at 10:20 am

    The Ark of the Covenant in Volcán, Chiriquí? What a crock! (And this place is not called Volcán Barú, which is the name of a mountain. It is hard to find something “in” a mountain.

    • Comment by Aron

      Aron Reply August 3, 2016 at 12:43 pm

      According to the map Volcan Baru includes the town of Volcan and Cerro Punta it is a fertile area of cool highlands drained by the Chiriqui Viejo and Caldera Rivers. The towns of Volcan and Cerro Punta can be found on its western side of Volcan Baru mountain and Boquete is on the eastern flank of the Volcan Baru mountain. The small town of El Volcan at the base of El Baru sits on the remnants of a hugh lahar that appears to have breached the caldera.
      There is an interesting article on the newspaper LA Estrella that has reported the discovery of the Ark of the Covenant in the excavated tomb located in Volcan. The new article link is
      It seems to be taken quite seriously the discovery and there are various other reports of the findings. This is not just some legend it seems to have some valid evidence pointing to a real mckoy discovery.

      • Comment by David Fishlow

        David Fishlow Reply August 3, 2016 at 1:54 pm

        If you had read the article you cite in support of a preposterous theory, you would know it says absolutely nothing about the Ark of the Covenant. It reports a discovery on the slope of the Volcán Barú of certain artifacts that Israeli archaeologists brought in to study them attribute to an Indian community annihilated at the turn of the 16th century by Christopher Columbus and his crew. The community whose chief was entombed at the site mentioned was on the coast of the Caribbean, and presumably the artifacts, were on the Caribbean slope of the Volcán. Moreover, the Estrella has always been and continues to be a tabloid newspaper about as reliable as the Enquirer found in US supermarkets.

        The town of Volcán is on the Pacific slope. Sitio Barriles is nowhere near Río Belén. No one has ever reported finding the Ark of the Covenant near Barriles. And whatever Doña Edna might tell you, the statuary found in the town square and the figure of one man on the shoulders of another, to be found at the Barriles museum, are crude copies made by a local stonecarver who worked from photographs of the original.

        The town of Volcán has Catholics, Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Foursquare Gospel, Methodists, Mormons and at least a dozen other churches, many of them of the storefront variety, plus a few Jews and a few Muslims. None of these faithful appear to have ever heard that they are living a stone’s throw from the landing place of the Ark of the Covenant. I have lived in this town for 25 years, know everybody here, and have never heard about the Ark of the Covenant. Even if you believe the biblical accounts of the Ark, there is no evidence that it is anywhere in Panamá. “IF YOU GO”, don’t get “took” by guides who offer to take you there.

        • Comment by Jim O'Donnell

          Jim O'Donnell Reply August 3, 2016 at 2:44 pm

          The very idea that the Biblical Ark of the Covenant has been found…or would EVER be found…in Central America is an absurdity that hardly bears responding to. It is the ulitmate in silliness.

      • Comment by Jim O'Donnell

        Jim O'Donnell Reply August 3, 2016 at 2:53 pm

        Aron, claims of discovery of the Ark are made every few years. The most recent, dating to late 2014, claims that it has been discovered in Ethiopia. The fact is that there is ZERO solid evidence for ANY of these claims. Zero. No actual scientist takes them seriously and none have made their way through the review process to get into scholarly journals where professionals could assess the evidence. Why? Because there is NOTHING to these claims. More fascinating to me is why and how these sorts of outlandish Indiana Jones type beliefs come about and take root. What are people so desperate to believe this item has been found?

        • Comment by Jorge Belgrave

          Jorge Belgrave Reply August 5, 2016 at 11:47 am

          Good Brother Jim O’Donnell, querido hermano Jaime!

          Thanks for you wonderful service, yet again! I too will NOT encourage such ignorance actually a HOAX: ‘Ark of Covenant Discovery in Panama’. The ‘Ark of the Covenant’ is an authentic anthropological ‘On Going Philosophical Discussion’, thinking simply simply thinking that the “Earth” is UNDERSTOOD to be in HARMONY with the “Ark: Universe” which is present to infinity.

          It is a ‘spirit’ ALL things sense in the soul of our hearts.

          Keep up the good works Jim O’Donnell

          Thanks in advance,


          • Comment by David Fishlow

            David Fishlow August 5, 2016 at 12:02 pm


  25. Comment by Cheryl Bleick

    Cheryl Bleick Reply August 3, 2016 at 6:34 pm

    You absolutely know the answer to your last question, SOL. You just don’t want to answer it out loud. Shall I?

    • Comment by Jim O'Donnell

      Jim O'Donnell Reply August 15, 2016 at 1:57 pm

      Yes. Cheryl. Please.

  26. Comment by Aron

    Aron Reply August 4, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    Hi Jim,
    thank you for explaining hat the claims are made every few years, however the issue is not that outlandish though because there are people that do believe and are waiting for the Ark of the Covenant to be discovered in Panama, for example the famous Glenn Beck said on his television show that there was archeological evidence to prove the Jews had migrated to the Americas before Christopher Colombus. He says there is evidence of the lost ancient Hebrew Ten Commandments from the Ark of the Covenant discovered in the Americas. The Ten Commandments were found in a tomb that dates back 2000 years ago. The ancient Hebrew Ten Commandments found in the Americas are on display in the Smithsonian Museum under the name Bat Creek stone Ten Commandments. The discovery of these ancient Hebrew Ten Commandments are shown on the television program of Glen Beck and here is the video link of the tv program where Glen Beck presents the ancient relics found in the Americas @
    There are over 10 million Mormons waiting for the Ark of the Covenant to be discovered in Panama. These people are following an ancient prophecy of William Penn who claimed the indigenous people of the Americas are of ancient Hebrew descent and called them Jews. Why millions of people believe the Ark of the Covenant will come from Panama and a New Jerusalem will be established in Panama is because of a theory written in this link

    • Comment by Jim O'Donnell

      Jim O'Donnell Reply August 15, 2016 at 1:58 pm

      Aron…. I’m so sorry. I do not intend to be rude but that is all just a bunch of silliness. Glen Beck….really, the man is a born liar and showman. He knows he is fooling people to make money. You cant trust him. Please. I beg you not to actually believe all that gibberish.

  27. Comment by Jorge Belgrave

    Jorge Belgrave Reply August 5, 2016 at 11:51 am

    Cheryl Bleick… I am a bit confused. I don’t know the meaning of your response. Thanks.


  28. Comment by David Fishlow

    David Fishlow Reply August 15, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    Maybe it was Noah’s Ark. Next time I see an elephant in Volcán I’ll ask him how he got here. Or a unicorn.

  29. Comment by Scott

    Scott Reply December 1, 2016 at 3:41 am

    Hi Aron!

    Can you send me your phone number? I very much would like to talk to you!

    734 224 2242

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