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September 01, 2011

Dating San Remigio

One of the small earthenware pots recovered during the second round of excavations at the San Remigio Parish Church site. Note the decoration on the body in this crudely-crafted ware.

Thanks to the second round of arhcaeological excavations at San Remigio, which was conducted by the University of Guam in collaboration with the National Museum, USC and UP ASP, we now have definitive dates based on soil and tooth samples sent to the United States. Here are the results:

Soil from Trench 6, cal BP 3180 to 3470
Post hole: cal BP 500 to 420
Tooth: cal BP 1540-1400

BP stands for Before Present, which is reckoned to 1950.The human tooth, therefore, in this sample dates to or A.D. 410 to 550 or about 1,460 to 1,600 years ago. This is exactly as we predicted in our earlier estimations of the Metal or Iron Age in Cebu, to date between 2,000 to 1,500 year ago!

Indeed, San Remigio is the oldest archaeological site in Cebu today.

June 15, 2011

Crunch time as Students View the Travelling Exhibition and the Excavations

These past two days, we have seen the steady arrival of batches of students from the San Remigio National High School who have come to view the exhibits at San Remigio Cultural Center and learn more about their town's past while also looking at the on-going archaeological excavations on site. We expect about 1,800 of these students to come this week even as students from other schools nearby, like that of the Lambusan National High School, have also began arriving.

Students from SRNHS viewing the central exhibits.

Taking notes.

Enjoying the view.

Posing by class.

Jojo Bersales explaining the finds to students

The bus waiting for students at the site nearby.

Teachers from Lambusan National High School together with their students.

The batch of exhibition visitors from Lambusan National High School.

Another batch of students from San Remigio National High School (SRNHS)

Jojo Bersales had to use a megaphone when the crowd swelled beyond 60 people.

Jojo Bersales explains the finds to students from two national high school.s

Bersales answers question right on site.

A student interviews Dr. Boboy Acabado of Univ. of Guam.
Another batch of students posing for posterity with their teacher, Edmund Apora.

June 13, 2011

And now to exhibit our finds

Last Friday, I returned to San Remigio together with our National Museum partners Dr. Ame Garong, Jose Santiago and Dante Posadas to install and inaugurate the traveling exhibition sponsored by USC Museum entitled "The Iron Age in San Remigio". The venue was the void deck of the San Remigio Cultural Center, right below where the joint USC-Univ of Guam-UP Diliman archaeological team is billeted while carrying out another round of excavations.

A day later, we inaugurated the exhibit with the presence of local dignitaries led by Fr. Tata Torres of the Parish of San Remigio, together with the Mayor's secretary, Rodney, and the Ruth Hermoso, San Remigio Tourism Officer. It was with Ruthy, as she is popularly called, that I coordinated the holding of this exhibit for two weeks while the excavations are unfolding at the parish church site.. A sumptuous dinner, sponsored by Mayor Jay Olivar, then followed the viewing of exhibits. Mayor Jay unfortunately was in Manila and could not attend the opening rites.

We are now busy inviting high schools around to come and view the exhibits which will run until June 21, 2011.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Putting the artifacts in their vitrines a few hours before the opening.

A peek of the display panel boards before the opening.

The archaeologists and students from Univ of Guam, Univ of Hawaii and Univ of the Philippines are our guests.
The exhibit area and displays.

The exhibition hall.

The dinner courtesy of Mayor Jay Olivar.

From left: Joe Santiago, Jobers R. Bersales, Sao Nguyen of Vietnam, Ame Garong, Donna Arriola and Ruth Hermoso.

The multi-nation group of archaeologists and their students awaiting the opening rites.

April 19, 2011

After Backfill

The first San Remigio Archaeological Fieldwork Project and the 2011 USC-NM Archaeological Field School officially ended today with the departure for Manila of the National Museum team led by Dr. Ame Garong.

Last Sunday, we left the site, with two vehicles courtesy of Gov. Gwendolyn F. Garcia and the Cebu Provincial Tourism and Heritage Council, our partner in this project.

All the excavation units have been backfilled and all that is left of the largest unit with the six burials are the tents generously provided to us by the Municipal Government of San Remigio, which also defrayed the cost of accommodations of the team, courtesy of Mayor Jay Olivar. Our thanks to the governor, the mayor and to Fr. Fritz Malinao as well as Fr. Tata, his assistant, and also to Archbishop Jose Palma and Msgr. Carlito Pono of the Archdiocesan Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church. Kudos to the people of San Remigio. We hope to return soon.

No more excavations. The soil is back where it belongs.

April 15, 2011

Finishing Touches

Accessioning was finally completed yesterday and the packing of artifacts and bones into crates began. Photography of almost all the important and significant finds, whether as sherds, fish and other animal bones or as associated potteries and metal implements, was also carried out yesterday and today. This was proceeding while our local laborers began the inventory of tools and equipment we used during the excavations (mainly mason trowels, picks, pails, stools, paintbrushes, whisk brooms and dustpans.

A six-page preliminary report on the highlights of the project has also been sent to Mayor Jay Olivar and a similar report also submitted to Fr. Fritz Malinao.

Tonight we will be making a public presentation at the void deck below our quarters, the San Remigio Cultural Center. Tomorrow we return to the city and deposite everything at the National Museum Branch located in Museo Sugbo.

Tools of the trade: our equipment. (Look, Ma, no detector!)

Photographing of artifacts.

The Metal in Metal Age

Among the artifacts we recovered that were associated with two of the six burials were metal implements or tools. These, and the earthenware, are what make us suspect that the site is of the Iron or Metal Age in the Philippines, which runs between 1,000 B.C. to A.D. 900.

Metal implements retrieved from Burial 3, the burial with the incised red-slipped carinated pottery.

A small "guna" or weeding tool retrieved very near the right pelvic region of Burial 4.


To aid us in the analysis of our finds, charcoal and soil samples have been collected for laboratory processing in the United States, if plans and funds permit. These samples were carefully collected to avoid as little possible contamination as possible.

The soil and charcoal samples are even accessioned and carry their own particular database numbers.