Looted artefacts may represent an entirely different tribe

It’s taken a long time, but Philippine archaeologists are finally examining a set of anthropomorphic jars that were recently seized from looters. The artefacts are thought to have been excavated as far back as 10 years ago. The unique nature of these jars coupled with ethnographic knowledge of the peoples currently inhabiting the region indicate that these jars may be the remains of an as-yet-unidentified population that once lived in Southern Philippines.

Artifacts from smugglers in Sarangani may lead to lost tribe
ABS-CBN News, 26 October 2008

When Philippine police confiscated 22 bags of broken pottery from antiquity smugglers near an area where Muslim rebels operated, little did they know that they may have uncovered the remnants of a long-lost tribe.

Now, experts at the National Museum in the capital Manila are studying the burial urns from a tribe that lived in the Philippines over 2,000 years ago, in what could be a major archaeological discovery.

“The pottery has human faces that show emotions,” Eusebio Dizon, head of the archaeological unit at the National Museum, told Reuters.

Dizon said that pictures of people on the shards might mean the tribe that used the vessels had different origins from the known indigenous tribes in the Philippines.


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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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