PHILIPPINES: ARCHAEOLOGISTS STUDY ARTEFACTS FROM ANCIENT SHIPWRECK

Published on August 8, 2021

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(5 Aug 1997) English/Nat

Archaeologists in the Philippines are studying artefacts excavated from an ancient shipwreck found on a coral reef about 10 kilometres (6 miles) off Pag-asa Island in the disputed Spratlys.

Around 1-thousand granite stones – believed to be stolen from a tomb – were among items recovered.

The wreck is thought to date from the 18th century.

At the National Museum in Manila, archaeologists are studying the find excavated by a team of Filipino and French divers after a tip-off from Filipino fishermen.

Around 1-thousand granite stones, taken from a tomb, were unearthed from the shipwreck discovered on a coral reef.

Some stones have motifs of what appear to be dancing Hindu ladies and floral designs.

Archaeologists believe this gravestone – covered in Armenian and Latin inscriptions – may have come from an Armenian merchant who died in 1754.

Doctor Eusebio Dizon of the National Museum says the find is an important one.

SOUNDBITE: (English)
“These stones are mainly granite stones – probably taken from a source somewhere in Southeast Asia – which may have been used as ballast stones for the historic shipwrecks that may have contained these materials and they may have been quarried for the purpose of rebuilding or recycling buildings, architectural buildings elsewhere in the Philippines.”
SUPER CAPTION: Dr. Eusebio Dizon, Curator, Archaeology Division, Philippine National Museum

The shipwreck which contained the artefacts was discovered near the Philippine- claimed Pag-asa island, the largest of eight islands occupied by Philippine troops in the Spratlys.

The Spratlys – a chain of islands, atolls and reefs in the South China Sea – are claimed by the Philippines, China and four other countries.

Eusebio believes the find belongs to the Philippines.

SOUNDBITE: (English)
“We do not want to go into political or territorial boundaries. We just use our GPS (Global Positioning System) to locate the locations. At the moment, I think this is under the care of the Philippine government, so they belong to us. That’s why they are here in the national museum.”
SUPER CAPTION: Dr. Eusebio Dizon, Curator, Archaeology Division, Philippine National Museum

Cannons, cannonballs and musket balls were also recovered.

Further studies of the recovered artefacts will be carried out before they are exhibited at the museum.

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