Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Inscriptions found on Intramuros pottery shard

A new dig at the old city of Intramuros in Manila, Philippines has uncovered a pot shard with inscriptions around its shoulder.

The Calatagan Pot had writing in the same location and was carbon-dated to the Neolithic period, although researchers have generally rejected this as too early. The inscriptions on the latter pot have never been satisfactorily deciphered although the script resembles known writing systems in the Philippines.

These is no comment in the following article on whether any attempt has been made to decipher the new inscriptions.

A NATIONAL Museum team has dug up a pot shard with an inscription
around its shoulder, similar to the world-renowned Calatagan pot, at
the San Ignacio archeological site in Intramuros.

The find, lying 140 centimeters below the surface at the ruins of the
San Ignacio church, is seen as evidence of another ancient form of
writing in the Philippines.

Most of the writing systems in the Southeast Asian region are derived
from an ancient script used in India.

In contrast to other countries, the Philippines has very few artifacts
that provide evidence of the earliest form of writing. These include
the Laguna copper plate (900 AD), Butuan ivory seal (9th to 12th
centuries), Butuan silver strip (14th to 15th centuries) and the
Calatagan pot (15th century).

When Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi came in 1567, he
observed that inhabitants read and wrote in their own system of
writing using an alphabet.

The Tagalogs had their own alphabet, the baybayin, which was similar
to those used by people in the South. The baybayin was in wide use in
the 16th century, but its users began to wane in the following century.

Among ethno-linguistics groups in the Philippines, only three have
retained the use of their syllabic scripts: the Hanunoo and Bahid
Mangyan of Mindoro, and the Tagbanwa of Palawan.

The archaeological excavation at San Ignacio is another project being
implemented jointly by the Cultural Properties and Archaeology
Divisions of the National Museum and the Intramuros Administration.

This project is undertaken in connection with the plan of the IA to
develop the area where the church ruins stand into an ecclesiastical

Digging was started in June by the National Museum team made up of
curator Angel P. Bautista, researchers Alfredo Orogo and Carmencita
Mariano, artist Ernesto Toribio Jr., and Jimmy Fingcale.

Excavation in five squares yielded 500 pieces of archaeological
material, of which the pot shard with inscription is considered the
most significant find.