Tomb raiders spoil Philippine archaeological find

Philippine archaeologists said Friday they had discovered a thousand-year old cemetery of rock coffins in a rainforest, but that tomb-raiders had found it decades earlier and stolen precious artefacts.

The coffins are rectangular holes carved into a limestone hill, a burial method documented only in two other areas of eastern Asia, the leader of the National Museum's archaeological dig, Eusebio Dizon, told AFP.

Dizon said local officials informed the museum last year about the site, in a forest about 200 kilometres (125 miles) southeast of Manila.

"(But) treasure hunters had been there before, in the 1960s and the 1970s, and a little bit in the 1980s," Dizon said.

"They would have taken metal and other implements to be sold, and thrown away the human remains since they had no use for them."

Forest rangers have since secured the site, on the top of a hill called Kamhantik, which is near a coconut plantation, according to Dizon.

He said his team had cleaned at least 10 mostly empty coffins, measuring two metres (6 feet, six inches) long, 50 centimetres (20 inches) wide and about 40 centimetres (16 inches) deep.

Fragments of human remains from one coffin were sent to a university in the United States for carbon-dating, which confirmed the site as a 10th-century settlement, he said.

More moss-covered coffins were found within the 12-hectare (30-acre) area of forest, and they will be excavated when funds become available, according to Dizon.

"There could be more items, artefacts showing how they lived," Dizon said.

Dizon could not say if the rock-coffin people were migrants or long-time residents who had learned the coffin-carving from outsiders.

Similar stone coffins had also been found in Gilimanuk in the Indonesian tourist island of Bali and some parts of Taiwan, he said.

But in both cases other types of rocks were used, with the Gilimanuk finds made of volcanic material, he added.

In the Philippine graves, Dizon said the community was believed to have used metal tools, maybe iron, to carve the holes into the limestone.

Other 10th-century residents of the islands used earthen jars and wood as coffins, he said.

The team also found evidence of houses being built atop the limestone.

Most of the known human settlements in the islands at the time were on the coasts, but the Kamhantik find was about six kilometres (three miles) inland, he said.

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Docu exposes destruction of PH marine resources VERA Files - The Inbox
    Docu exposes destruction of PH marine resources

    By Kiersnerr Gerwin B. Tacadena, VERA Files “Gutom (hunger),” Sen. Loren Legarda said is what’s in store for the Filipino people if destruction of the country's marine resources is not stopped. Legarda, chair of the Senate committee on Environment and Natural … Continue reading → …

  • Environmental groups oppose proposed coal-fired power plants VERA Files - The Inbox
    Environmental groups oppose proposed coal-fired power plants

    By Patricia Isabel Gloria, VERA Files GROUPS opposed to the building of 25 coal-fired power plants within the next six years gathered outside the gates of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Tuesday, International Earth Day, as … Continue reading → …

  • Green is in VERA Files - The Inbox

    Text by Kimmy Baraoidan, VERA Files Photos by Chris Quintana and Kimmy Baraoidan Los Baños, Laguna—Inside a wet market in Los Baños, a stack of paper bags hangs by a fruit stand. Many towns now ban the use of plastics … Continue reading → …

POLL
Loading...
Poll Choice Options