The Archaeology Division conducts researches on the human past through material remains in the form of artifacts, ecofacts, and ancient structures, with the aim of ordering and describing the events and explaining their meaning. The focus is on the prehistory of the Philippines and their relation to the rest of the prehistory of Southeast Asia. The division undertakes researches in two broad areas: Terrestrial and underwater archaeology. There are a number of support sections: 1. Terrestrial - deals with the archaeological sites on land both open and cave sites.2. Underwater - deals with all underwater archaeological sites such as shipwrecks of Chinese junks and Spanish Galleons prehistoric ports and sites in the Sunda Shelf. and other wrecks 100 years or older. 3. Zoo-Archaeology - Studies the faunal remains recovered from archaeologicalsites. Undertakes the collection of samples of skeletal remains of living creatures to provide an index of faunal skeletal remains for researchers. 4. Records - keeps all the archaeological records from the field including the specimen inventory records, site discovery forms, logbook, and all field reports, manuscripts, and publications based on the different research activities of the division.5. Collection Holdings - Takes care of all the specimens collected and keeps a copy of the inventory records. Takes charge of the storage and maintenance of the specimens.
Permanent ExhibitionsThe New National Museum of the Filipino People at the Old Finance building features two permanent archaeological exhibitions: The Prehistory of the Philippines (Pinagmulan), and Archaeological Treasures (Kaban ng Lahi). The San Diego galleon is a temporary exhibit at the 2nd floor. 1. Prehistory of the Philippines (Pinagmulan)The Pinagmulan exhibition capsulizes Philippine prehistoric research to date. It starts with the geologic formation of the archipelago, then the Paleolithic Period, Austronesian movement, Neolithic Period, Metal Age, trade goods and luxury goods (carnelian, jade and glass), pottery, Asian trade, Butuan boat, international trade, conservation of underwater materials, a featured site (Batanes Archaeological Project), and general/basic archaeology. 2. Archaeological Treasures (Kaban ng Lahi) Maitum, Manunggul, etc.)Features the Maitum Anthropomorphic Potteries, the Manunggul Jar, Leta-leta potteries from Palawan, limestone urns from Kulaman Plateau, Cotabato and gold artifacts.
• Maitum Anthropomorphic Potteries The anthropomorphic secondary burial jars from Pinol, Maitum, Saranggani Province in Mindanao date back to the Metal Age. The site had been dated to 830 +/-60 B.P. (calibrated date of A.D. 70 to 370) and 1920 +/- 50 B.P. (cal. date of 5 B.C. to A.D. 225). The radiocarbon dates were obtained from the soot samples taken from the small earthenware vessel found inside one of the anthropomorphic burial jar. These burial jars are made of earthenware designed and formed like human figures with complete facial characteristics. These were associated with metal implements; glass beads and bracelets; shell spoon, scoop, bracelets and pendants; earthenware potteries with incised designs and cut-out foot-rings; non-anthropomorphic burial jars.
• The Manunggul Jar was recovered at Chamber A of Manunggul Cave in Palawan. It is an elaborately designed burial jar with anthropomorphic figures on top of the cover that represent souls sailing to the afterworld in a death boat. The figure on the rear is holding a steering paddle with both hands; the blade of the paddle is missing. Both figures appear to be wearing a band tied over the crown of the head and under the jaw. The manner in which the hands of the front figure are folded across the chest is a widespread practice in the Philippines and Southeast Asia when arranging the corpse. The prao is carved like a head with eyes, nose, and mouth. This motif of carving is still found on the traditional sea vessels of the Sulu Archipelago, Borneo, Malaysia. The execution of the ears, eyes, and nose has similarities with the contemporary woodcarvings of Taiwan, the Philippines, and many areas in Southeast Asia.• It is dated to as early as 710 - 890 B.C. The Manunggul jar was declared a National Treasure and its portrait is on the 1000 Philippine peso bill.
• Leta-leta cave archaeology Leta-leta Cave, Langen Island, El Nido, Palawan was excavated in 1965 by Dr. Robert Fox. Leta-leta Cave is an important burial site belonging to the Late Neolithic Period where an assemblage of stone and shell artifacts associated with sophisticated pottery and nephrite adzes and axes were recovered. Other materials include stone ornaments and shell beads.
• 3. The San Diego Exhibition The San Diego was originally built as a trading ship. It was formerly known as the San Antonio before it was converted into a warship. It sank approximately 900 meters northeast of Fortune Island in Nasugbu, Batangas after it engaged the Dutch warship Mauritius under the command of Admiral Oliver Van Noort on December 14, 1600. A total of 34,407 artifacts and ecofacts were recovered from the shipwreck. The artifacts include all forms of porcelain, stoneware, earthenware materials and metals. The San Diego exhibition has been on tour around the globe before it was permanently displayed at the new National Museum of the Filipino People.
• Archaeology of Bolinao - Bolinao, Pangasinan• Features the archaeological materials recovered from the 14th - 15th century burial site in Balingasay, Bolinao, Pangasinan. One of the finds is the beautiful and ornate method of decorating the teeth with gold. Dental gold ornamentation have been encountered in various Philippine archaeological sites like Sta. Ana, Manila; Calatagan, Batangas; Samar; Marinduque; and others. The original specimen is presently stored at the National Museum in Manila. The dental ornamentation of the Bolinao specimen differs from other sites. They are like tiny nails with flat rounded tops or heads and once the body are placed in a bored hole on the tooth, they look like "fish scales" especially if they are more than one placed in a tooth, with portions of the rounded top overlapping one another, while a single peg looks like a shiny round spot on the tooth. Pegging vary from one up to eight pegs in a single tooth, the two upper and lower teeth usually have more pegs than the rest of the teeth.• Other materials on display at the museum are contact period ceramics, stone tools, metal implements, earthenware materials, bone implements, and shell objects recovered from the excavation.
• . Ancient Man in Cagayan Valley - Tuguegarao, Cagayan The greatest number of large fossil remains that could shed light on the past environment during the Ice Ages are in Cagayan Valley which includes the province of Nueva Viscaya, Kalinga Apayo and Isabela. Stone tools recovered from archaeological sites in the Cagayan Valley area could provide evidences of early mans activities. Based on the fossil records, the area was generally forested with a subtropical moderate climate, cooler than the present day climate. Elephants, stegodons, rhinoceros, primitive bovines, pig and deer, crocodiles and giant land turtles roamed its wilderness. Food gathering and trapping of animals were the basic survival strategies at that time. People gathered shells in streams and rivers while scavenging or hunting took place in open areas or on the edges of forest. Stones were worked on to make tools.•
• Butuan Archaeology - Butuan City Butuan, Agusan del Norte, Southern Mindanao boasts of its wooden boats excavated in the area which predates European boat construction. These boats were constructed using a very ancient technique. Carbon-14 dates of 320 AD, AD 990 and AD 1250 were obtained from samples taken from parts of the three excavated boats.• The Balangay (referring to the smallest political unit in Philippine society whose organization is similar to what existed in the boat), as the Butuan boats were called were constructed using the edge- pegged, plank-built technique. The planks were secured using dowels or wooden pegs. They were round bottomed and were propelled by sail and steered by a rudder. These characteristics are similar to other Southeast Asian boats.• So far, nine (9) balangays have been documented to exist. The National Museum excavated three of these boats while the rest are still waterlogged in specific sites in Butuan City until such time that personnel and finances permit their scientific excavation and conservation.
• The Tabon Caves- Quezon, Palawan Seventeen (17) cave sites were excavated in this southwestern sector of the Philippines which yielded stratigraphic sequences of Upper Paleolithic flake implements covering a period of about 50,000 years of the late Pleistocene and early Post- Pleistocene period. The deepest occupational level excavated in Tabon Cave has a radiocarbon-14 determination of 30,500 +/- 1100 years ago (UCLA 958) from charcoal found with flake tools at 121 cm in depth.
• 18th Century Griffin Shipwreck - Fort Pilar, Zamboanga City The underwater archaeological excavation of the 18th Century Griffin wreck site conducted in cooperation with WorldWide First Inc. About 6,894 pieces of artifacts were recovered from the site consist of different types of porcelains, cannon balls, iron ballast and glass bottles. The first exhibition of the 18th century Griffin shipwreck was in Zamboanga City in 1987. It was exhibited in the National Museum in Manila in 1988 and subsequently remounted for permanent display in Fort Pilar, Zamboanga City in June 1990.