TABUK CITY, Philippines — Scientists from the National Museum and a team of archaeologists and researchers have found several artifacts and the fossilized remains of an animal larger than a carabao in an archaeological dig site in Rizal town in Kalinga province last week, a local official said.
Rizal Mayor Marcelo de la Cruz Jr. said he was hoping his town would regain the distinction of being one of the important archaeological sites in the country because of the ancient tools and fossils of a prehistoric animal found on Elephant Hill in Sitio Greenhills in Barangay (village) San Pedro.
Ma. Kathryn Manalo, a member of the University of the Philippines (UP) Archaeological Society who was involved in the diggings, confirmed that they recovered fossils but said they had yet to identify the animal to which these belong.
“All the archaeological materials will be placed in the UP Archaeological Studies Program (UP ASP) for laboratory analysis and will be later deposited to the National Museum of the Philippines,” said Manalo in a text message sent to the Inquirer on Saturday.
“We hope the site will become one of the observatory sites for prehistoric animals,” she added.
The area where the fossils were found can be reached after a two-hour drive through upland roads from the Kalinga capital of Tabuk City.
De la Cruz, who visited the dig site, said the scientists involved in the diggings were very happy because they found fossils that constituted “almost 70 percent” of the animal.
He said the monthlong excavation that started on June 8 was supervised by
Dr. Thomas Ingicco, associate professor and head of the zooarchaeology laboratory of the UP ASP.
De la Cruz said among the artifacts recovered in the site were stone flakes used as cutting tools.
He said the scientists supervising the dig site prohibited the release of photographs of the fossils and artifacts to the public pending the National Museum’s clearance.
The fossils and artifacts, he said, would be kept at the National Museum but the Rizal town government could reclaim and display these once it builds a secure museum.
Dela Cruz said he had coordinated with the town council to “protect, preserve and promote” the 16-square-kilometer Elephant Hill as a “world archaeological destination.”
He also urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Department of Tourism, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, National Historical Commission of the Philippines and other stakeholders “to coordinate and provide the [Rizal town government] with the necessary technical assistance to delineate the site.”
De la Cruz said their records showed that foreign archaeologists discovered a jaw of a rhinoceros in the area in 1935.
Records said a team from the National Museum did its first excavation in 1971 and identified 68 sites where fossils and artifacts were found.
In 2001, the second National Museum excavation resulted in the discovery of an elephant tusk in the area.
Former President Ferdinand Marcos, through Presidential Decree No. 1109 which he signed on March 28, 1977, declared the archaeological areas in Cagayan Valley region and in the provinces of Kalinga and Apayao as archaeological reservation.
PD 1109 said “preliminary findings indicate that Cagayan Valley and Kalinga-Apayao could have been the habitation of the oldest human beings in the Philippines.”
“It is necessary that the areas in Cagayan Valley and Kalinga-Apayao, where important cultural items would be recovered, be preserved and maintained as site museum,” it said.
The law placed all excavations in the reservation under the control and supervision of the National Museum.
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