There are now several “Philippine Archaeological Artifacts” discovered by Filipino archaeologists in the country and brought them to the Philippine National Museums for public views. These discoveries only proves that early Filipino people were already cultivating the land since the ancient period of time. And, they had left us many amazing treasures and artifacts which shows the incredible beauty of our ancient cultures.
Today, archaeologists still keep on discovering interesting artifacts or Philippine National Treasures which we are about to cover down below. But as a warning to all fellow Filipino treasure hunters, be warned that when you got caught by the authorities having possession of any of these Philippine cultural artifacts, this could put you to jail. Thus, if you find any of them then it’s best to surrender the artifact to the Philippine National Museum. The good thing to all treasure hunters is that, the Japanese or Yamashita Treasure is “NOT” considered a Philippine National Treasure.
Famous Archaeological Discoveries in the Philippines
1. Anthropomorphic Pots – Ayub Cave, Saranggani Province
One of the most interesting relic pots discovered by archaeologists in the Philippines are the “Anthropomorphic Pots” which they uncovered at the Ayub Cave, Pinol, Maitum, Saranggani Province. They uncovered a total of 21 potteries where each of them are quite unique to one another.
What actually makes these anthropomorphic pots interesting is that they resemble human figures. The heads which are the covers also portrays different kinds of facial expressions (sadness, joy or contentment).
According to the archaeologists, these ancient jars were used for secondary burials. In my own personal opinion, the expressions on the faces of the jars probably had something to do to the dead person that they contained.
Archaeologists dated them way back to the Metal Age of about 5 BC to 225 AD. Although, some archaeologists claims that since these anthropomorphic pots were used for burial practices, they probably belonged to the Late Neolithic Period which was about 1000 BC to the 16th century.
2. Manunggul Jar – Manunggul Cave, Lipuun Point, Palawan
The “Manunggul Jar” is also another secondary burial jar just like the anthropomorphic pots mentioned above. It was discovered by a group of archaeologists at the Manunggul Cave in Lipuun Point, Palawan. But other than this jar, they had also found mysterious human remains covered in red paint decorated with bracelets made out of shells, stone beads and jades.
What actually makes the Manunggul jar quite interesting is its design. The upper portion of the jar consists of curvilinear patterns made from natural iron. But, the most interesting part of the jar is the figure on top of it consisting a boat with two passengers. This represent the souls of the dead sailing into the Afterworld.
Archeologists dated this Manunggul jar at an early period of 710 BC to 890 BC which falls under the Late Neolithic period.
3. Limestone Urns of South Cotabato
There are several “Limestone Urns” that were recovered by archaeologists at the Salangsang and Seminoho Caves in South Cotabato region. At the caves and rock shelters of Salangsang, they have uncovered a variety of carved lids made out from soft stones. While at the Seminoho Cave, a lot more interesting limestone urns were discovered consisting of anthropomorphic covers.
Found inside one of the limestone urns was a human bone. This allowed the archaeologists to perform carbon-dating which gave a carbon date result of 585 AD.
4. Yawning Jarlet of Leta-Leta Cave, Northern Palawan
A small ancient jar was found at the Leta-Leta cave in Northern Palawan consisting of a rim that looks similar to an open wide-mouth of a shouting or yawning person. Hence, archaeologists derived the name of the jarlet as the, “Yawning Jar”. They also concluded that this jarlet is approximately dated from 1000 to 1500 BC which falls under the Late Neolithic period.
5. Maitum Anthropomorphic Burial Jars – Ayub Cave, Saranggani Province
There were several “Maitum Anthropomorphic Burial Jars” uncovered by the archaeologists at the Ayub Cave, Pinol, Maitum of the Saranggani Province. Some of them are really quite interesting that they were crafted portraying complete human body features. These Maitum burial jars actually have heads (expressing different types of facial expressions), ears, arms and etc…
According to the archaeologists, these Maitum anthropomorphic burial jars belonged to the Metal Age at an approximate date of around 5 BC to 225 AD.
6. Calatagan Ritual Pot of Batangas
The “Calatagan Ritual Pot” was excavated in Calatagan, Batangas by a certain group of diggers. Fortunately, they donated them to the National Cultural Treasure to the Philippine Museum allowing the archaeologists to study the artifact.
What actually makes the Calagatan ritual pot quite interesting to the archaeologists are the mysterious ancient writings inscribed on the upper portion of the object. Many attempted to decipher the scripture but they failed. Until, Dr. Rolando O. Borrinaga of UP Manila managed to decode the inscription which was an old Bisayan language.
This ancient ritual pot has been dated by archaeologists claiming that it originated between the 14th to 16th centuries.
1. Ancient Man in Cagayan Valley – Tuguegarao, Cagayan
At the Cagayan Valley of Tuguegarao, diggers have been surprisingly excavating human fossil remains where some experts believed that they belonged to the Ice Age period. Others claim that these human fossils dates back to the Paleolithic Age which was more than 500,000 years ago. Hence, they named those human fossils as “Ancient Man” or “Cagayan Man”.
Due to the discoveries of these Ancient Man remains, they currently hold the earliest human inhabitants of the Philippines. Many different theories have been speculated on how they ended up at the Cagayan Valley but still, there’s no solid proofs which makes it remains a mystery.
2. Callao Man – Callao Cave, Penablanca, Cagayan
The most popular ancient bone discovered in the Philippines is the “Callao Man” excavated by a group of archaeologist at the Callao Cave, Penablanca, Cagayan which consists of a foot bone. And, it used to be the earliest human fossil found in the country before the discovery of the Ancient Man above.
Through Uranium-Series Dating method, archaeologists came out with a result that the bone is around 67,000 years old.
3. Bolinao Skull – Bolinao, Pangasinan
At the Balingasay Archaeological Site in Bolinao, Pangasinan, archaeologists had excavated a total of 67 skulls. But one among these skull is different in a way that its teeth are well decorated with gold ornaments. It is claimed that the skull probably belonged to a wealthy and brave man.
Along with the skulls were Early Ming dynasty ceramics which are dated from 1368 to 1644.
4. Tabon Fossils – Tabon Caves, Quezon, Palawan
When the Tabon caves were excavated by a group of archaeologists, they have uncovered a lot of fossilized remains which belongs to both humans and animals. Further studies of the fossilized human bones shows an estimated date between 22,000 to 24,000 years old. Within these early period, archaeologists have categorized them as the “Modern Man Homo Sapiens” of the Philippines.
c. Gold Artifacts
1. Golden Tara – Wawa River, Agusan, Mindanao
If other Asian countries have their own Golden Buddha, early Filipinos also have the “Golden Tara” which is an image of a female deity. It was accidentally found by a Manobo women at the river banks of the Wawa River, Agusan, Mindanao.
This image made out of gold weighs nearly 4 pounds consisting of 21 carats. But, sad to say that no one can derived a solid proof of evidence about the date of its origin.
2. Golden Death Mask of Oton – San Antonio, Oton, Iloilo
A mysterious mask made out of gold was excavated at the grave site in San Antonio, Oton, Iloilo. Thus, they call it as the “Golden Death Mask of Oton”. The mask simply consists of a eye-mask and nose-disk. Archaeologists claims that this mask was used by the ancient people for their burial practice. It was actually intended to ward off evil spirits.
The period of origin of this golden mask is dated by the archaeologists that it belonged from the late 14th to 15th century AD.
1. Laguna Copper Plate Inscription (LCI) – Lumbang River, Laguna
The “Laguna Copper Plate Inscription” or LCI is an ancient artifact measuring 7 x 12 inches consisting of mysterious written scriptures. It was uncovered at the mouth of Lumbang River, Laguna. And, it currently holds the title of being the earliest historical document of the country.
The writings on the copper plate is actually a receipt of payment for a debt.
2. Elephant Dish of Lena Shoal, Palawan
A blue-and-white dish with a flying elephant design was discovered at Shoal, Palawan at an underwater site location. What makes this ancient dish interesting is that, it is currently one of the two pieces of antique dish with elephant design that are discovered throughout the world.
Further studies of this ancient dish shows that it was made during the Middle of Ming Dynasty (ca. 1500). Theorists suggests that this porcelain dish probably find its way to Shoal, Palawan due to a wrecked ship of a Chinese trading vessel.
3. Mysterious Astrolabe of San Diego – Fortune Island, Nasugbu, Batangas
Are you familiar about the Spanish Galleon Ships? If not then San Diego refers to one of these galleon ships who made it into the Philippine coasts. The San Diego galleon ship was actually discovered at the Fortune Island in Nasugbu, Batangas.
The “Astrolabe” was just one among the artifacts salvaged from the wrecked ship. This piece of object is a mysterious navigational device which still puzzles many archaeologists about how it works.
This piece of object is estimated to be around 400 years old.
4. Burial Cloth of Banton, Romblon
An ancient “Burial Cloth” or “Ikat” was discovered inside the Guyangan Cave in Banton, Romblon along with many other artifacts. Early Filipinos used it as a blanket for wrapping corpses which was a practice that started in the 13th to 14th centuries. Currently, Romblon’s Banton Burial Cloth holds the title of being oldest piece of cloth in the country.
5. Wooden Boats of Butuan, Agusan del Norte, Southern Mindanao
There are several “Wooden Boats” or “Balangays” discovered in Butuan, Agusan del Norte, Southern Mindanao. These are local Butuan boats that were constructed using edge-pegged and plank-built ancient technique which is quite remarkable.
A total of 9 Balangay boats have been found in the site but only 3 of them have been successfully recovered. Using Carbon Dating method on the samples obtained from the 3 boats, archaeologists had dated them with ages 320 AD, 990 AD and 1250 AD.
Latest Archaeological Artifacts Found in the Philippines (2014 to 2015)
Aklan Caves of Kalibo, Aklan
A group of archaeologists have been excavating in the two ancient caves in Aklan, Kalibo. As a result, they have uncovered “human teeth, human bones, decorated earthen wares and many other fragments”. The teeth that they recovered belongs to both adults and young children while the broken pieces of decorated earthen wares could be a proof of early Chinese settlement on that site.
Fossils Discovered in the municipality of Rizal, Kalinga
Archaeologists were astounded when they have discovered prehistoric fossils of different ancient creatures in northern Luzon in Sitio Greenhills, San Pedro at the municipality of Rizal, Kalinga. Among these interesting ancient fossils are the skeletal remains of a rhinoceros and large tusk which they believed belonged to a mammoth creature.
Unfortunately, the archaeologists working on the site prohibits the public from viewing the site or taking pictures of the discovered fossils.
Filipi Know –15 Most Intense Archaeological Discoveries in Philippine History
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WikiPilipinas (Hip n’ Free Philippine Encyclopedia) – Cagayan Man | http://bit.ly/wikipilipinas [Last accessed on August 28, 2015]
Manila Bulletin – Archaeological Artifacts Unearthed in Aklan Caves | http://bit.ly/manilabulletinmb [Last accessed on August 27, 2015]
PhilStar – Fossils Discovered in Kalinga Excavation | http://bit.ly/philstarps [Last accessed on August 27, 2015]