New Discoveries of Philippine Archaeology in the Past Ten Years

Significant Finds from a Decade of Philippine Archaeological Research: 1996-2006 including the dating of early man fossils from the Tabon Caves, networking with foreign archaeologists in the SEA region, The Cagayan Valley Project and Hizen porcelain exports from Japan.

For details of each paper or to contact the authors, please contact
Yoshiko Nagano
Faculty of Human Sciences, Kanagawa University
Email: [email protected]

Author: RONQUILLO, Wilfredo P.
Title of paper: Significant Finds from a Decade of Philippine Archaeological Research: 1996-2006

Ten years after the last Philippine Prehistory Session at the International Philippine Studies Conference held in Honolulu, Hawaii Philippine archaeological research continue to result in the generation of unique and important prehistoric data undertaken by the Archaeology Division of the National Museum of the Philippines. Still the only institution undertaking archaeological research in the country on a year-round basis the decade 1996-2006 has seen important advances in this field in spite of the limited funding from the National Government due to the financial difficulties in the country. The creation of the Archaeological Studies Program at the University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City in 1996 was a turning point in the history of archaeology in the country. For the first time the academic arm of the discipline was instituted in the premier university of the country ensuring additional archaeological research undertakings, continued source of well-trained archaeologists some of whom are already members of the Archaeology Division of the National Museum and a vibrant archaeological community in the country. This paper presents a summary of the terrestrial archaeological research activities undertaken in the Philippines, data generated to reinforce previous questionable C14 datings of important early man fossils from the Tabon Caves and the important networks and linkages with foreign archaeologists during this ten-year period and indicates their usefulness in the larger Southeast Asian region archaeological community.

Author: GARONG, Ame M.
Title of paper: Reconstruction of the Subsistence Strategies and Deciphering Shell Midden Formation of the Prehistoric Shell-Gathering People in Northern Philippines

The Cagayan Valley Archaeological Project has been in existence for more than ten years covering the three municipalities of Gatarran, Lal-lo and Camalaniugan. They have been explored, surveyed and excavated focusing on shell midden sites and upland/open sites. The Cagayan River, the longest river in the Philippines runs through these three municipalities and it has been found out that the river has provided food such as shells and fish for the inhabitants through time. Archaeological activities have been concentrated more in Lal-lo because of its huge and extensive shell midden deposits. Fish and freshwater bivalve shells locally known as cabibi (Batissa sp.) abound from this river, as well as other gastropods. In 1985, twenty-one (21) shell midden deposits were discovered by a team of archaeologists and geologists from the National Museum of the Philippines and Japan. The sites explored were along the riverbank, limestone formation, inland and upland areas. From the 21 sites identified thirteen (13) were systematically excavated yielding shells, animals and human bones, potteries of different types and other cultural materials of great importance to Philippine archaeology. The middens ranged from 1 to 2 meters high and extended approximately for 2 kilometers along the riverbank. Interestingly, the huge midden deposits were basically made up of bivalve freshwater shells locally known as cabibi with minimal number of freshwater gastropods. This present research project has studied 13 shell midden sites including 2 upland-open sites. They have been excavated allowing for the establishment of a local chronology. This present paper attempts to present and discuss the possible changes in strategies and subsistence pattern of prehistoric people through time using the shell midden and the different cultural and faunal remains associated within. The paper will also present findings that will lead to a better understanding and interpretation of the formation of the shell midden deposit that is different from one site to another.

Author: TANAKA, Kazuhiko
Title of paper: Micro Sequence of the Iron Age Pottery of the Bangag I Shell-midden Site, Lal-lo, Cagayan.

In prehistoric archaeology, it is very important to establish the pottery sequence as the relative time scale. The pottery sequence becomes the basis of all archaeological discussion. In the lower reaches of the Cagayan River, the large framework of the pottery sequence was established by efforts of Prof. Hidefumi Ogawa, myself and others. However, the detail of the sequence is not yet totally clarified. My paper will give such detail of the sequence as the micro- sequence focusing on the Iron Age in Northern Luzon. The Bangag I Shell-middle Site is revealed an iron fragment from Layer VI. So it is possible to say it is the Iron Age site. It had a thick deposit of shells of thickness of 2m 80cm. This shell deposit was divided into 11 layers. All layers revealed the pottery. On the basis of these layers, it is possible to establish the micro-sequence of the pottery. And the C14 dates are also available. The animal bone of Layer II revealed a C14 date of 1750±30B.P. The animal bone of layer VI revealed a C14 date of 1915±50

B.P. The animal bone of layer XI revealed a 14 dating of 1965±40 B.P.

Author: NOGAMI, Takenori
Title of Paper: Hizen Porcelain Transported by Manila Galleon Trade

Hizen porcelain was exported from Nagasaki, Japan to Southeast Asia by the Dutch VOC ships and Chinese junks between the late 17th century and the middle of the 18th century. It is known that many pieces of Hizen porcelain were found at the archaeological sites in Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia. But there was no evidence that Hizen porcelain was exported to the Philippines before our research. In March 2004, we examined the shards of porcelain unearthed at Intramuros in Manila. Although they were mainly the shards of Chinese porcelain produced between the late 16th century and the 19th century, we found several pieces of Hizen porcelain for the first time. Then we have examined the shards unearthed at several excavated sites in Manila, and we found about sixty pieces of Hizen porcelain. The finding strongly supports that Hizen porcelain was imported to Manila, and it implies that Hizen porcelain was transported from Manila to Acapulco by Spanish galleon ships, because several shards of Hizen porcelain found at Intramuros were identical to the shards of blue and white plates unearthed in Mexico City and Guatemala.

Published: 04 Apr 2007

Contact details:

University of the Philippines-Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Development LGF Phivolcs Bldg., C.P. Garcia Ave., University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City

(632) 927-2567; (632) 927-2309
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