The Archaeology Division

Historical Notes

The creation of the Archaeology Division in 1988 marked the birth of the youngest of the twelve divisions of the National Museum. The Anthropology Division concentrated on the study of prehistoric culture, historical archeology, and the new field of underwater archeology.

The Archaeology Division is relatively young, but activities and studies in this discipline can be traced to as far back as the Spanish colonial period. As early as the l9th century, foreign archaeologists began scouring the Philippine Archipelago for evidences of early man. Scientists like Feodor Jagor, J. Montano, Paul Rey and Dean C. Worcester all made separate explorations in various parts of the country. Each one of them went home with a good collection of earthenwares, semistonewares, glazed burial jars with human skeletal remains, carved wooden coffins, ornaments of metal, shell and glass as well as wooden and metal implements and carved wooden images.

The dawn of Philippine archaeology came in the 1920s when American scientist Carl Guthe conducted his explorations in the Visayan Islands. His yield was amazing: 31 cubic tons of archaelogical specimens from 542 sites! Most of his finds are now deposited at the University of Michigan in the United States.

At about this time, a fortnightly scientific symposium was opened at the Bureau of Science under the chairmanship of Roy E. Dickerson. This symposium tackled the geological, biological and human history of the Philippines. The results were partially published in 1928 as Monograph No. 21 of the Bureau of Science entitled "Distribution of Life in the Philippines" which confirmed the country's special niche in the international scientific plane.

Philippine archaeology will not complete without the name of H. Otley Beyer who accumulated and examined about thirty neolithic implements geographically scattered from Davao to Northern Luzon. His findings show that the Philippines had a late stone-age population, though the remains scarce and widely scattered.

When Beyer chaired the Department of Anthropology at the University of the Philippines in the mid-1920s, an accidental archaeological work took place at the Novancnes Dam and Reservoir Project in Rizal Province. This yielded some 18,000 specimens of stone and metal artifacts, beads, glass and pottery bracelets, mammalian fossils and potshards.

In 1932, F.G. Roth discovered the first Batangas site in Cuenca in 1932 which contained a neolithic assemblage. With Beyer's help, the survey was extended gradually southward to the municipality of Alitagtag and by 1935, a full Stone-Age series from Early Paleolithic he latest Neolithic and Bronze Ages was found.

This page was last modified Monday, February 10, 2014
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