Century Old Sarcophagus

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Sarcophagus is a box like funeral receptacle or a stone coffin most commonly carved in stone and displayed above ground.

Sarcophagus (Singular) or Sarcophagi (plural)  is first used in Egyp 3,000 to 4,000 years ago.  It was  carved out from a  single piece of stone or a particular kind of limestone.

Sarcophagus is now used as an archaeological term.

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The archaeological site was located in the highest point of Mulanay, in Quezon province, the Mount Kamhantik, and it was first discovered in 1998 during the construction of relay station tower of telecommunication firm.

The National Museum declared the Kamhantik site as protected area,when they received information. They  sent someone to inspect the site, but the sarcophagi was not properly identified during that time.

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 The first archaeological works was conducted after 13 years, the first is  February 2011, the  group of archaeologist are impressed  with  the sarcophagi which are already exposed  because many of them  were already looted by treasures hunters.  The second archaeological work was made September of  the same year.

The first excavation  was only a small portion of a 280 hectares(692  acre) forest area, where they believe that there are more artifacts and limestone coffins remain uncovered.   The first thing that made is to cleared the area from any obstruction like the dense vegetation’s, particularly the vines that intrudes the graves. The soil covered the graves are carefully removed, using small trowel and brush. They uncover more tombs and artifacts of major archaeological significance, they found thousand of shards of earthen jars, metal objects and bone fragments of humans, and animals.

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 During the excavation, they found a post holes, concluding that once there are a house or its used as a post of a  shed covering the limestone outcrops.

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According to the preliminary report of the archaeologist of the National Museum, the archaeological site with habitation and burial remains is a 1000 years old village based on U.S. carbon dating test on human tooth found in one of the 15 limestone graves. According to the archaeologist, that tooth enamel dating that sent to United States  has a very minimal margin of error, with the result that tooth came from around 960 to 980 A.D.  The findings make the  grave around 1000 years from the period of 10th to the 14th century.

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Most of the remains found in the burial sites are in wooden coffins and or burial jars. The result of the Kamhantik burials sites is one and first of a kind in the Philippines.

 The discovery of the century old sarcophagus, that used by  early inhabitants has resulted, an evidence that the ancestors were more sophisticated than the first  thought. The metals tools found in the settlement that used for curving the rectangular tombs is historically important  indicating the advance practice of the ancient Filipino.

 The traces of evidence pointing to a canal system, further highlighting the Austronesian sophistication.

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However,that only a small part of the site has been excavated. the discoveries are enough for primary analysis and studies.
Artifact/Ecofact Analysis:
Due to time constrains and considering the site is a private property, only one area was initially explored.
Out of the few limestone explored  the archaeologist collected   1,374  archaeological artifacts, some of the artifacts are now at the National Museum for detailed analysis.
Human Skeletal Remains:
There are 31 human skeletal remains and teeth collected during the excavation. Based on the initial study of the collected human bones, is owned by  6 individuals, wherein 4 are adults and 2 are children not more than 11 years old.The human teeth retrieved, exhibit a light reddish stain that coats the enamel and points to a probable habitual use of betel nut.

Animals  Bones:

There are 567 bone fragments and teeth in the collection. The animal remains found in the site are impotant factors, because it provides significant information on the subsistence and interaction of man and animals in the past.  The initial analysis of animal remains from Kamhantik Archaeological site  shows the presence of now extinct animals and contemporary species as well. Further analysis can offer information on the changes in the environment that occurred in the past that produced the current animal assemblage not only in Kamhantik but in other areas in Quezon and Luzon Island.

From the bone fragments collected, three mammals and one reptile were identified.

 

Earthenware shreds:

There are 666 earthenware shreds, were most of them are undecorated. The materials are probably made in calcite or quartz, that can be confirmed for more studies or by petrographic analysis of ceramics are conducted.

 

Trade-ware Ceramics

There are 34 trade-ware ceramics are also found in the excavation, they are brownish gree glazed stoneware jars, having a dragon design, that assumed that this may used as a burial offering or probably secondary burial containers. There are also some celadon pieces in the collections. The probable date and provenance of the artifacts has not been explored yet.

 

Metal Fragments:

A total of 8 metal fragments are collected, they are highly corroded aand fragile.

Shells:

Four different shell species were recovered from the site. The local name of the shell has not been established yet.

Remains of Food Items:

Archaeologist  found  food remains, suggesting that there was habitation and a settlement in the area.

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Philippines own only one archaeological site, The Tabon cave in Palawan, which is far from Manila and mainland Luzon.

Mayor Joselito Ojeda of Mulanay, with the assisitance of Mulanay tourism officer Mr. Sanny Cortez,  made the appeal to the National Museum to complete the study and excavation on the site. With the tourism department of the municipality they are planning to turn the Kamhantik into a archaeological and ecotourism park with a museum,  that showcase the richness and colorful cultural heritage in Mulanay.

Today, they are now clean the site with proper trails, and a guide to assist visitors. They are also planning to put a bridge on top of the grave to avoid destruction’s of the  grave..

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They have already started transforming some part of the mountain as a model of reforestation with a nursery of endangered tree species. The forested mountain was a safe sanctuary for for several wildlife, like rare horn bills, wild cats and many other more..

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The archaeologist recommended  a protective strategies to ensure that the site is firmly secured and any constructions must be non obtrusive in the site.

 

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 Balete Tree (Banyan Tree)

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The Kamhantik park also contain a 300 years old Balete Tree that will added attraction in the site. For folklore belief uses and others about Balete Tree click HERE 

 

 

Mulanay is one of the farthest reach of Quezon Province, separated by a peninsula, called Bondoc Peninsula or Bonpen, was once a hot spot of insurgency in the province. Bonpen is consist of 12 municipalities where 4 of them are not explored by many travelers and tourist due to bad impressions that still remain for many years, are the place of Mulanay, San Andress, San Narciso and San Francisco.

The influence of violent arm group is almost instinct, and no longer an issue.  The discovery of Kamhantik burial site  and other natural attractions, hoping  that will erase  the negative impression in the place.

 

 All visitors for Kamhantik Burial sites must coordinates with Mr. Sanny Cortez, to let him inform the Kamhantik care taker that also serves as guide. His  mobile number is 09398283735 . Mr Cortez is holding 2 positions in the town, He is the Tourism Supervising Operation officer and head officer of Disaster Risk Reduction and Management in Mulanay. A little patience  contacting him,  especially during there’s a bad weather.

 

 

How to get there?

 

Manila to Mulanay

Superlines Transport  have 3 daily direct trip to San Andres that passing Mulanay 4:30 AM, 2:30 PM, and 5:30 PM.Schedule may change without notice. For some inquiries you may call 02-414-3119/02-4143321 and 09225225192.

 

Manila to Lucena

There are some  Bus lines from Cubao (EDSA-Kamuning-Kamias)  to Lucena (Grand Terminal)  like JAC Liner, Lucena Lines and DLTB, Tritran.

 

Lucena to Mulanay 

Barney Auto Lines  from Alabang terminal is passing the Lucena Grand Terminal to take passenger going to San Andres, Mulanay and San Narciso. Last trip is 12:00 midnight, then follow the next  trip at 2:00 AM. Around 3 hours travel time.

There are groups of Van operator in Lucena bound to Mulanay. Van Terminal in Pacific Mall 0910-5863023, the schedule are 11:00AM, 1:00PM and last trip is 3:00 PM. There are also van terminal in SM Lucena,

 

 San Andress to Kamhantik Burial Site. 

Its better to give a courtesy call to Mulanay tourism office (open from 8:00AM to 5 PM) to arrange your visit to the site.  From the jump off going to the burial site is unpassable for 4 wheels cars, due to road condition, instead, going their you need to transfer to the what they called top-down, a kind of tricycle that is used to  get to the site.

 

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Related post about Bonpen:

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Alibijaban Island, for more details click the picture or just click HERE

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Tigbi Water Falls, for more details click the picture or just click HERE

Special Thanks:

  • Mr. Sanny Cortez – Head Mulanay Tourism
  • Dr. Eusabio Dizon of National Museum of the Phjilippines
  • Mulanay Tourism Council
  • National Museum of the Philippines
  • Municipality of Mulanay
  • People of Mulanay