New Paper: Bioarchaeology of Care in the Metal Period, Philippines

Vlok et al on a case of disability care in Metal Age Philippines

10.1002/oa.2588

Abstract

A case of disability in the Metal Period of the Philippines, likely requiring healthcare from others, is presented to explore aspects of group dynamics in this period of antiquity. B243, a middle-aged male excavated from the Napa site in the central Philippines, suffered severe trauma to the right leg resulting in considerable restrictions to mobility and self-maintenance of survival related behaviours such as food provision and hygiene. It is likely that B243 required assistance from others to survive for some period of time prior to eventual death. The bioarchaeology of care method was applied to assess the types of healthcare that B243 likely required, and to consider potential social and biological impacts to both B243 and his community. Provision of healthcare practice in this case suggests that B243’s community had access to health-related resources, knowledge on the treatment of his injuries and underlying values in the group for sustaining human life in the case of injury and disability.

Source: A New Application of the Bioarchaeology of Care Approach: A Case Study from the Metal Period, Philippines – Vlok – 2017 – International Journal of Osteoarchaeology – Wiley Online Library

Yamashita’s gold as a modern take on an old tale

A new paper in the Journal of Folklore Research argues that the legend of Yamashita’s gold, a source of many a treasure-hunting expedition in the Philippines – is a modern iteration of a post-colonial longing for hope and prosperity.

Excavating a Hidden Bell Story from the Philippines: A Revised Narrative of Cultural-Linguistic Loss and Recuperation
Journal of Folklore Research
Vol. 53, No. 2 (May/August 2016), pp. 86-113

Yamashita’s gold has been found and it’s not what you think
Rappler, 07 August 2016

The hunt for war treasure in the Philippines has hidden meanings
Science Daily, 10 August 2016

Stories of hidden valuable artifacts are told in many parts of the Philippines. One such tale is of a church bell, concealed to prevent theft but now beyond reach (Motif V115.1.3, Sunken church bell cannot be raised). Typically, these stories are transmitted orally. However the small Eskaya community of southeast Bohol maintains a written version of a lost-bell tale included in a larger intergenerational archive of hand-copied literature. Since the early 1980s, the Eskaya have been an object of media interest for having consciously created their own “indigenous” language, writing system, and literary tradition. This paper examines the meanings of the Eskaya variant of the lostbell story in the context of community aspirations for recognition as an indigenous minority. In the Eskaya version, pre-Hispanic native faith is valorized over the corrupted Christianity introduced by Spain. The deliberately concealed church bell and its promised future retrieval recapitulates wider postcolonial narratives of cultural-linguistic suppression and revitalization, underscoring the agency of Eskaya people in their retrieval (or reinvention) of a pre-colonial indigenous identity.

Paper here.

Shell midden discovered in old church grounds

Archaeologists in the Philippines make a chance discovery of a shell midden when visiting an old church. With the cooperation of the authorities they were able to document the site and suggest future directions for the construction to minimise impact to the site. The site contains human bones, which may indicate some sort of pre-Hispanic burial site.

Pre-Hispanic burial ground unearthed in CamSur town
Philippine Inquirer, 31 July 2016

A team of archaeologists and graduate students from different universities in the United States accidentally found a pre-Hispanic burial ground amid an ongoing construction work of a multipurpose building in a former cemetery here on Monday.

The team, led by archaeologist Dr. Stephen Acabado, was surveying an old church in the village of Santo Domingo in the town along the Bicol River when they stumbled on the burial ground.

“We (archaeological team) were visiting the Camaligan church when I asked my group to see first the (Bicol River). Passing by the old cemetery, I saw there’s construction going on and diggings. When I entered the construction site I immediately saw the shell midden. Wow!” Acabado said.

Full story here.

Cultural Heritage Education in the Philippines

A profile of Philippine archaeologist Mylene Lising and her work in cultural heritage education.

Mylene Lising. Source: CNN Life 20160715
Mylene Lising. Source: CNN Life 20160715

A Filipino archaeologist’s mission to make prehistory relevant today
CNN Life, 15 July 2016

Growing up in Tuguegarao, Cagayan, she lived 40 minutes east of modern-day Kalinga, where stegodon fossils were found, and 40 minutes west of Callao Cave in Peñablanca, where the oldest human fossil in the Philippines was excavated. “That kind of stuck to the back of my mind,” she says about her childhood.

But it was only when her fine arts professor asked her to do a research paper on prehistoric art in the Philippines that she first did any in-depth learning on archaeology. From then on, she never looked back.

While studying to get where she is today, Lising found herself asking questions that could change the course of her career: “Why am I going into this field? Is it only for my amusement? Parang, that’s so vague.” She said that her work in archaeology had to serve a bigger purpose. It had to add value to people’s lives. That’s how she decided to focus on cultural heritage management.

Full story here.

Free entry in the National Museum of the Philippines

As of 1 July, admission to the National Museum of the Philippines is free for all nationalities.

Entrance to the National Museum now ‘permanently’ free
Rappler, 30 June 2016

National Museum admission now free – permanently
Philippine News Agency, via Interaksyon, 01 July 2016

– It’s been a day of new beginnings as the nation’s new leaders assumed of office on June 30, Thursday, but in addition to the good vibes, the National Museum has announced that entrance is “permanently free of charge for all visitors, Filipino or foreign, to its museums nationwide.

The Board of Trustees of the National Museum is implementing a new policy, effective by July 1, “in order to build upon signi涁ㄗcant spikes in viewership, especially among younger Filipinos, that have been observed in 2013-2015 and to date in 2016,” it said in a Facebook post

Full story here.

Road project threatend Philippine mummy site

A road construction project in Philippines’ Mountain province runs uncomfortably close to some sacred mummy burial sites, sparking criticism.

Hanging coffins of Sagada. Source: Inquirer 20160627
Hanging coffins of Sagada. Source: Inquirer 20160627

Sacred mummy cave in Sagada threatened by DPWH-DOT road project
The Inquirer, 27 June 2016

A government road-widening project in Sagada, Mountain Province is threatening the integrity of an ancient mummy burial cave in Ambasing Village.

The road-widening is part of the “convergence project” of the Department of Public Works (DPWH) and Department of Tourism (DOT) designed to ease traffic to and from the picturesque Mountain Province municipality.

The convergence project has irked residents who have criticized the local and national governments for their reckless disregard of environmental, heritage, and even sensitive cultural-religious concerns caused by public works in aid of tourism profits.

Full story here.

Alarm raised over carpark construction in the Banaue terraces

A controversial parking lot being constructed near the Banaue rice terraces is being called out by the head of ICOMOS in South Korea as being unsightly.

Source: Philippine Inquirer 20160222
Source: Philippine Inquirer 20160222

Unesco experts say 7-story parking building in Ifugao mars sightline of Banaue Terraces
Philippine Inquirer, 22 February 2016

The head of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (Icomos) in South Korea has expressed misgivings over the construction of a seven-story parking building in Ifugao, which she said might mar the already scarred sightline of the Banaue town center in Ifugao province.

Icomos is an advisory body of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco)

Rii Hae Un, a professor at the Department of Geography of Dongguk University in Seoul, also echoes her group’s concern over the uncontrolled development on the Ifugao Rice Terraces.

Full story here.

Priest defies orders and destroys 18th century church ruin with construction

A priest in Philippines’ Iloilo province is relieved of his duties when he authorised construction on the ruins of an archaeologically significant ruin of an 18th century church, against the orders of the local bishop and the National Museum of the Philippines.

18th century church in Aranguel. Source: Philippine Inquirer 20160222
18th century church in Aranguel. Source: Philippine Inquirer 20160222

Capiz priest defies bishop, National Museum; builds concrete chapel on archaeological site
Inquirer, 22 February 2016

Parish priest in Iloilo relieved for allowing ‘unauthorized’ digging at Catholic cemetery
Inquirer, 28 February 2016

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Even without proper permits, the parish priest of President Roxas town in Capiz province has continued to build a chapel inside the ruins of an 18th-century church in Barangay Aranguel, a former town founded by the Augustinians in 1704.

The chapel construction started in 2014 and is the project of the parish priest, Monsignor Alden Boliver. It has been ordered stopped by the National Museum and the Archdiocese of Capiz.

Human bones were recovered after the foundation was dug in 2014, prompting local officials to call the National Museum for an archaeological investigation in the area.

National Museum assistant director and osteologist Angel Bautista and his team recovered trade ware and ceramic shards dating back to the Sung and Ming dynasties.

“These archaeological materials are significant because these will provide insights into the earlier period of human occupation in the area. Furthermore, the walls of the old church are still intact and should be protected for posterity,” said a National Museum report published on its website in 2014.

Full stories here and here.

RIP Bill Longacre

Saddened to report the passing of William “Bill” Longacre, who passed away yesterday in the US. Tito Bill, as he was affectionately known, played an influential role in the archaeology of the Philippines in his ethnoarchaeological study of the Kalinga and their ceramics. More importantly, he is remembered as a kind and supportive mentor who helped develop the careers of many Philippine archaeologists today. RIP.

The late Prof. William Longacre and former student, Stephen Acabado. Source: Stephen Acabado.
The late Prof. William Longacre and former student, Stephen Acabado. Source: Stephen Acabado.

New York Times’ Review of Philippine Gold

The New York Times’ review of the Philippine Gold exhibition at the Asia Society.

Gold image of a female with upraised hands. Source: New York Times, 24 September 2015
Gold image of a female with upraised hands. Source: New York Times, 24 September 2015

Review: ‘Philippine Gold: Treasures of Forgotten Kingdoms
New York Times, 24 September 2015

More than half a millennium before Ferdinand Magellan reached the archipelago now called the Philippines in 1521, a number of related societies thrived there. Little is known about them. They left no enduring architecture, monuments or literature. One thing is certain, however: They were astoundingly skillful goldsmiths.

The star of the show and the biggest piece is a gleaming sash that could be mistaken for a futuristic ammunition belt. Made of myriad gold beads, it’s designed to be worn over one shoulder, across the chest and to the hip where one end threads through a loop and concludes with the setting for a now lost finial. Nearly five feet long and square sectioned (about an inch on a side), it weighs about nine pounds.

Another striking piece, called a kamagi, consists of 12 necklaces strung together into a nearly 15-foot-long chain punctuated by small, colored stones. The individual necklaces are composed of smooth, interlocking beads that combine to form flexible, snakelike lengths of gold.

Full story here.