National Cultural Treasures of Philippine Archaeology

A National Cultural Treasure is defined as a cultural property that is a unique object found locally, possessing outstanding historical, cultural, artistic and/or scientific value which is significant and important to the country and nation.

The following archaeological objects have qualified to be declared National Cultural Treasures because of their outstanding value to the history and identity of Filipinos:

  • they are historically significant because of their association with prehistoric events and past industries that are the foundation of the Filipino culture
  • some of them are aesthetically significant for their craftsmanship, mode, technical excellence, exquisiteness, expression of skill and quality of design and execution
  • these artifacts and ecofacts have research significance and outstanding scientific value because they are provenanced and recovered from a documented context
  • they represent aspects of 50,000 years of Philippine prehistory and early history



Manunggul Burial Jar



The Manunggul Jar is a unique Neolithic secondary-burial jar with incised running scrolls / curvilinear designs and impressed decorations; and painted with hematite. On top of the cover is a boat with two human figures that represent souls on a journey to the afterlife.

Calatagan Ritual Pot



The pot was recovered in Mang Tomas Archaeological Site, Calatagan, Batangas in 1961. It is unique and classified as atypical earthenware with ancient syllabic inscription on the shoulder.
The Calatagan ritual pot is the only one of its kind with an ancient script.

Maitum Anthropomorphic Burial Jar No.13



This is unique and the only intact anthropomorphic burial jar with two arms, nipples, navel and male sex organ on the body that is found in an archaeological context. The head is unpainted and with perforations on the lid that show side parting of the hair. Its lips are colored with red hematite and accented with an incised design. It also has two ear lugs on the lower half of the urn.

Maitum Quadrangular Burial Jar



This is a quadrangular jar with four ear lugs on the body and intricate scroll design emanating from a single trunk. The cover of the burial jar has a crown-like embellishment on top like birdsí head coming together. This jar has curvilinear scroll designs such as free hand painting of Tree of Life and cloud motifs. This is the earliest record of cloud design on a pottery.

Leta-Leta Jarlet with Yawning Mouth



The jarlet is one of the several intact pieces of pottery recovered in Leta-Leta Cave, Northern Palawan in 1965. It is an anthropomorphic vessel depicting a yawning mouth. This jarlet is unique and is the earliest pot recovered in the Philippines.

Leta-Leta Stem Cup



The cup is one of the several intact pieces of pottery recovered in Leta-Leta Cave, Northern Palawan in 1965. The cup is unique and is the only known earthenware drinking vessel in the Philippines.

Leta-Leta Footed Jarlet



This jarlet was systematically retrieved in Leta-Leta Cave, Langen Island, Northern Palawan in 1965. This piece is unique and the only one of its kind so far found in the Philippines.

Leta-Leta Presentation Dish



The vessel was systematically retrieved in Leta-Leta Cave, Northern Palawan in 1965. This is the earliest type of presentation dish with lattice work of pedestal and lace design.

Pandanan 14th Century Blue-and-White Porcelain



The 14th Century Blue-and-White Porcelain Bowl is one of its kind. Its design, the wonderfully preserved pattern, shows the mythical qilin and phoenix cavorting between lotus scrolls. Qilin is a horse or unicorn-like creature of Chinese mythology which was considered a noble portent of good government.

Lena Shoal Blue-and-White Dish with Flying Elephant



One of the two pieces so far recovered in the world, the Elephant Dish is made of porcelain with black and brown specks visible in the paste. On the central medallion is the flying elephant design painted in dark blue against a background of stormy and foaming waves. This is a rare representation of an elephant in early historic art.

Puerto Galera Blue-and-White Jar



Recovered in Puerto Galera, Mindoro, this Blue-and White jar has ears, cloud collars at the shoulder, human figures and floral designs around the body, and a lotus lappet on the upper foot rim.
This is a unique specimen associated with Swatow Wares.

Palawan Zoomorphic Ear Pendant



This type of Lingling-O is the double-headed pendant found in Duyong Cave. This is the most distinctive jade ornament with zoomorphic design; and a superb and beautifully proportioned example of an ancient carving in jade.

Cabalwan Earliest Flake Tools



Collected in Awidon Mesa Formation, Espinosa Locality 4, Cagayan Province, these flake tools were recovered in the same lithology where fossils of prehistoric elephant and stegodont were retrieved.

Batangas Likha Figurines



Collected in Calatagan, Batangas, these are the only authenticated likha.

Mataas Shell Scoop



The Mataas shell scoop is a concave utensil with a sharp point at one end and a figure at the other end. The latter has a right extremity that forms to what appears like an arm with five digits. The left extremity and the head are missing. The outer surface of the body whorl near the figure has an angular shoulder. This shell scoop, recovered in Cagraray Island, Albay is not bilaterally symmetrical.
Shell scoops made from the body whorl of Turbo marmoratus first appeared in the Late Neolithic Period at Manunggul Cave, Quezon, Palawan.

Duyong Shell Adze



This shell tool is similar to the shell adzes recovered in Micronesia and Ryuku Islands in Okinawa, Japan. The presence of shell adzes, not only in Palawan but also in Tawi-Tawi, is very significant in the study of movements of people from the insular Southeast Asia to the Pacific.br/>

Tabon Skull Cap



Systematically retrieved during the archaeological excavation in Tabon Cave, Palawan in 1960, this bone is the earliest skull cap of modern man, Homo sapiens sapiens, found in the Philippines.

Tabon Mandible



Systematically retrieved during the archaeological excavation undertaken in Tabon Cave, Quezon, Palawan, this is the earliest evidence of human remains showing archaic characteristics of a mandible and teeth.

Tabon Tibia Fragment



The bone was recovered in Tabon Cave during its re-excavation in 2000 by the National Museum. The bone was identified as human and was sent to National Museum of Natural History in Paris, France for a more detailed study. Accelerated carbon dating technique was applied to this bone that revealed a dating of 47,000 +/- 11-10,000 years ago.

Bolinao Skull with Teeth Ornamentation



Recovered from Balingasay Archaeological Site in Bolinao, Pangasinan were teeth with gold ornaments in 67 skulls associated with tradeware ceramics attributed to Early Ming Dynasty (15th century AD). One of the skulls is the renowned Bolinao skull where gold scales were observed on the buccal surfaces of the upper and lower incisors and canines.

Gold Seal of Captain General Antonio Morga



Collected by underwater archaeologists at the San Diego Wreck Site off the Fortune Island, Nasugbu, Batangas, this gold seal is unique and the only one in the world.

Oton Death Mask



Collected in Oton, Ilo-ilo, this is the first gold death mask recovered systematically by archaeologists - a rare piece.

Butuan Paleograph



Found among burial coffins in Butuan, this artifact is the only one of its kind, rare and still un-deciphered. It presents 22 units of writing on a silver strip similar to a Javanese script that had been in use from the 12th to the 15th century AD. The characters display a Hindu-Buddhist influence, probably the earliest in the Philippines.

Laguna Copper Plate



The thin copper plate has ten lines of small script characters that are impressed on one side. This rare artifact was studied by Dr. Anton Postma and Dr. Johannes de Casparis. According to them, the main language of the copper plate is old Malay but the text is sprinkled with Sanskrit, old Javanese and old Tagalog terms.

San Diego Astrolabe



Collected in San Diego Wreck Site off Fortune Island, Nasugbu, Batangas, the astrolabe consists of a bronze disc, a ring at the top by which they are suspended, and a counter weight of the bottom to stabilize them. At the center of the disc is a pivoting pointer called alidade.
This piece is one of the two known existing astrolabes in the world. An instrument derived from the planispheric astrolabe invented by mathematicians in ancient Alexandria, the nautical astrolabe appeared in the Portuguese sphere of influence only in the late 15th century after it was adopted by nearly all western mariners.

Banton Burial Cloth



Found in association with coffin burial in Banton Island, Romblon Province, this burial cloth is the oldest textile associated with Yuan ceramic tradeware and the oldest textile so far found in the Philippines.

Marinduque Celadon Jar



Collected in Marinduque Province, this jar has a body embossed with Chinese dragon design which is one of the only three known of its kind in the world.

Butuan Balangay Boat



The first balangay excavated by the National Museum, this boat is dated 320 AD, the earliest watercraft so far found in the country.

Butuan Crucible



Collected in Butuan City in 1986, this crucible with multi-colored silica drippings was used for smelting metal to produce precious personal ornaments.

This page was last modified Monday, February 10, 2014
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