The Anthropology Division

Turning Points



Through time, as efforts in the anthropological discipline became more intensive, some organizational reforms were deemed necessary. First, a Chemical and Physical Laboratory was set up in 1977, where soil samples from the excavation projects in Cagayan were initially analyzed. Known today as Chemistry and Conservation Laboratory, this unit undertakes chemical analyses of specimens and artifacts gathered by the researchers of the National Museum.

Following this move, a Zooarcheology Section was created in 1987, tasked to undertake researches concerning osteology, paleontology and zooarchaeology of important animal species that could help in the reconstruction of the prehistory of the country. Another structural reorganization took place in 1988 when the Archaeology Section was separated from the Anthropology Division, leaving it with only two sections.

Ethnology and the Laboratory


The discovery of the "balanghai" boats used in pre-Spanish times in Butuan City in 1977 signalled a new wave of scientific interest in underwater archaeology. The Marinduque UnderwaterArchaeology Project, Puerto Galera Underwater Archaeological Project, and the Lubang Island Underwater Archaeology Project were all undertaken in the 1980s.

The Division considered the ancient agricultural calendars of Besao, Bontoc, Mountain Province as significant evidences of ancient Filipino applied mathematical science. It also treated the Petroglyphs of Angono, Rizal, ancient rock drawings on the walls, as important additions to the continuing study of prehistoric man. The Petroglyphs of Angono Project started a new trend in anthropological studies, as researches in megalithic structures in Pagadian, Zamboanga revealed that the ancient rock structure in Dumalinao were natural columnar basalt with a unique structure believed to have been used by early man. Such discovery, in turn, had set off a series of researches which confirmed presence of megalithic structures and survivals in other areas of the country.

Following the success of the Tau't Batu Project and driven by hunger for more ethnographic discoveries, the Anthropology Division orchestrated their researches on the ethnography of various ethnic peoples of the Philippines. The Negrito Ethnology, Survey of Waray Material Culture, the Atta of Lamiles, Panablanca, Cagayan, the Itawes, Sama Mapun of Sulu, and the I-wak, were some of the most notable ethnological studies.

Finally, the Division witnessed a historic turning point when it undertook the Osteological Reference Collection Project aimed at establishing a skeletal reference collection of economically important species of Philippine fauna to be used as basis for the identification and interpretation of animal remains excavated from various archaeological sites. This was followed by the Ifugao and Bontoc Catalogue Project and the "Peoples of the Philippines" Data Bank Project.

This page was last modified Monday, February 10, 2014
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