Volcan | Sitio Barriles | the Barrels Archaeological Site

This is a very interesting site located about six kilometers outside of the town of Volcan. It has artifacts from A.D. 300-900, and is named for the barrel shaped object which was the first artifact found here. Archaeologists from around the world have been studying it since the 1940’s. Some of the artifacts have been taken to the National Museum in Panama City, but many can also be seen here.

For more information see the articles on Wikipediayourpanama.com, La Prensa (in Spanish), and Portal of Tourism of Volcan,

The site is on a private family farm, and the owners are the custodians of the site and the artifacts.  You can see stone carvings, ceramic artifacts, and excavation areas. Many of the stones are unusual because there is little to see until they are wet, and then the designs become visible. The boy who greeted us on arrival requested $3 per car to walk around on your own, or $3 per person for a guided tour. The owner was busy with another tour so we decided to walk around on our own.

Our friend Ryan has also visited this site and made a video of his trip. The link is HERE if you want to check it out. He took the tour so in his video you will see the owner explaining everything, and there is a lot of very interesting information.


I expected to see artifacts, but I did not expect to see so much other beauty. It is a spectacular area full of flowers, trees, and many birds. There are paths for walking, and I really enjoy exploring this area.


This was only one of our stops on this trip to Volcan. We visited Raquel’s Ark, and I will repost Joel’s blog post about that visit. On our way home we stopped by a Janson’s Coffee Farm. We were tired and didn’t have enough time to really explore this, so we will return on another day. It’s a beautiful spot with a lot of things to do, and looks like it is well worth a return visit.

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About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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5 Responses to Volcan | Sitio Barriles | the Barrels Archaeological Site

  1. indacampo says:

    It’s such a shame that so much of Panama’s history is likely sitting on someone’s fireplace mantle in other countries. There will often be people driving around our area selling artifacts and they are the real thing even though it is illegal to sell them. There isn’t much enforcement.

    Very lovely pics…as usual!


    • Kris says:

      I have friends a bit out of town who told me the same thing about people driving around selling artifacts. They think these people know where old graves are and dig things up.


  2. i am amazed at how natural and ‘el sitio’ the artifact are and hope that they remain undisturbed. sometimes they lose significance when moved from their original placement.. some of the mysterious spheres of southern costa rica were possibly used for astronomy purposes, but once moved from their places in the fields, there’s no record of where they were located.

    i would LOVE to spend a few days researching those artifacts! petroglyphs have always held a strong interest…

    you have some images of the very versatile ginger.. the torch ginger in those exquisite deep reds…

    even those mysterious flowers that poke out of the ground are gingers — Curcuma zedoaria – those lovely delicate flowers sometimes appear before the foliage, die back and then the lush foliage appears for the rainy season.. then everything dies back during the dry season.. and the cycle begins again around easter when the first rains return!


  3. Kris says:

    According to the lady in the video the artifacts have been left in the dirt because they would probably fall apart if they were disturbed any further. I thought it was really cool to see them where they have laid for all those hundreds of years. It’s also quite a feeling to touch the stones and think who else touched them and made them so long ago.
    Torch ginger? Thank you! There are some in the neighborhood and I’m glad to know what they are. I really happy to learn about the curcuma zedoaria! There are also some of those in our neighborhood and the flowers indeed did come up all by themselves, and now some leaves are starting to appear. I found a plant at a vivero that looks like a big pink puff ball flower on a stem. She said it is a resurrection plant because it does the same thing, flowers around Easter, then foliage, then nothing until next Easter.


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