Two-year archaeological project in Northern Cebu begins

An archaeological survey and excavation are set to start on July 12, 2021 in San Remigio and other parts of Northern Cebu.

The Northern Cebu Archeological Project is a joint project of the National Museum of the Philippines (NMP) and Aboitiz Foundation in collaboration with the University of San Carlos (USC) in Cebu. Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. through its President, Andoni Aboitiz, granted the NMP a Php 2M donation in support of its archeological heritage preservation initiatives. A Trustee of NMP, Aboitiz also approved the use of his private property as field station for the excavation project in San Remigio, Cebu. 

Unidentified earthenware artifact associated with one of the burials recovered at the San Juan Nepomuceno Parish Church site in San Remigio, Cebu back in 2012.

The project is geared towards the establishment of a protocol and methodology for systematic archaeological studies in Cebu where a template for continuing studies and resources to archive and preserve data of archaeological sites and landscapes will be developed. From this, its primary objective is to develop a geospatial database to record all archeological sites and resources in Cebu through the use of state-of-the-art archeological methods and applications. The project also aims to produce a comprehensive catalogue of archeological findings in Cebu especially those belonging to the Metal Age, which will be a useful reference for further studies, for the development of a comprehensive preservation program, and for crafting sustainable information dissemination programs through local and international publications. 

Tektites such as can be found in the Carcar Formation that appears in Badian but also throughout North Cebu. These objects are from a 700,000 years old meteor splashdown that scattered throughout the region, and are coeval in the landscape with very ancient humans and fossil animals such as stegodon and rhinocerous.

Despite the existing quarantines and travel restrictions, the NMP Project Team led by Deputy Director-General for Museums Dr. Ana P. Labrador assisted by Alexandra de Leon of the Archaeology Division, decided to move forward to implement the project with Cebu-based archaeologists Dr. John A. Peterson and Dr. Jose Eleazar R. Bersales of the USC Department of Anthropology, Sociology, and History. Preliminary activities requiring coordination with stakeholders, including local and provincial governments, have been completed. 

The two-year project is scheduled in four phases. Towards the last phase of the project, collected cultural resources will be launched publicly through an exhibition that will piece the stories of those sites in the forthcoming National Museum Central Visayas Regional Museum in Cebu.

According to NMP Director-General Jeremy Barns, this archaeological project is believed to be a game-changer for the NMP as it seeks new modes of engagement with its partners in the field of archaeology while dealing with the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. He also believes that the project will largely contribute to promote local and train future archaeologists, as well as inspire intensified cultural cooperation in the country.

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