1,000-year-old stone sarcophagi points to sophisticated early Filipino society

A centuries-old cemetery used by early inhabitants of the Philippines has yielded data indicating that our ancestors were more sophisticated than initially thought.


1,000-year-old stone sarcophagi points to sophisticated early Filipino society

According to a report from GMA 7 news program “24 Oras”, instead of containing the well-known wooden coffins or burial jars usually found in burial sites, the cemetery in Sitio Kamhantik, Mulanay, in Quezon province contained sarcophagi or funeral receptacles cut from stone.

Sarcophagi are usually associated with Egyptian and some European burials.

Along with the limestone cut sarcophagi, pieces of pottery, jewelry and metal were also discovered in the site.

Post holes, in which the foundations of houses could possibly have been inserted in, were also found in the excavation site.

One of the tooth fragments found in the site was carbon-dated to the 10th to 14th centuries, making the objects around 1,000 years old.

Furthermore, the Austronesian (the term used to describe early inhabitants in the Philippines) burial site is located at the peak of the Bondoc peninsula. It was previously believed that Austronesians only lived in coastal areas.

“Very significant ito, to have a 10th century village. Mayroon nang sophistication, and they have the ability to adapt in an environment that is not even suitable for habitation, and convert limestone for habitation is really something of an achievement,” Dr. Eusebio Dizon of the National Museum’s Archaeological Division said.

Dizon theorized that the Austronesians chose to live on a mountain peak in order to avoid being attacked by marauding sea pirates.

“Another hypothesis: there was a tsunami going on in the coastal area, kaya umalis sila,” he also said.

Dizon also noted the traces of evidence pointing to a canal system, further highlighting the Austronesians’ sophistication.

The National Museum had been informed of the Kamhantik site’s existence in 1998. It has since been declared a protected area.

However, only a small part of the site has been excavated and studied. But given these recent discoveries, it will be subjected to more analyses and excavations.

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