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Maitum Cave artifacts likely 3000 years old
Teachers ask DepEd to include Maitum jars in History books
Collectors urged to turn over antique jars to Nat'l Museum
Sarangani hosts symposium on Maitum archaeological finds
    N E W S  --  Archaeological finds in Maitum
Sarangani hosts symposium on Maitum archaeological finds

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/23 November 2002) -- Finally, a symposium on "Maitum Archaeological Finds."

Eleven years after the "Maitum secondary burial jars" were discovered, employees and residents of Sarangani province will finally learn from archaeologists themselves the importance of the find to the prehistory not only of Maitum town or Sarangani province, not only of Mindanao but the rest of Southeast Asia.

Dr. Eusebuio Dizon, Curator I of the Archaeology Division and Head of the Underwater Archaeology Section of the National Museum and Director of the Archaeological Studies Program (ASP) of the University of the Philippines, and Prof. Rey Santiago, also of the National Museum and the ASP, will be the main speakers at the symposium on "Maitum Archaeological Finds" at the provincial gymnasium in Alabel, Sarangani at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, November 26.

The symposium is part of the November 23 to 28 celebration of the 10th foundation anniversary of the province.

Dizon headed the archaeological team 11 years ago of the now famous anthropomorphic secondary burial jars in Pinol Cave, Maitum town, Sarangani. The team included Santiago, Museum Researcher II at the National Museum who also teaches at the ASP.

Last month, Maitum Mayor George Yabes invited Dizon and Santiago to visit a cave in Sitio Linao, Barangay Kiambing, some seven kilometers from the town hall. The cave yielded pottery sherds from various periods, some likely to be 3000 years old, Dizon said.

But Dizon said the sherds would have to be sent abroad to get a more accurate dating.

Yabes also gathered town officials and teachers last month to listen to Dizon speak about the significant archaeological finds that are known worldwide but unknown to majority of the residents in Maitum.

At the end of the forum in Maitum last month, the teachers said the Department of Education (DepEd) should include the Maitum Jars in the history textbooks because "our students are familiar with the Tabon Cave in Palawan but not Pinol cave here."

Dizon, who did a preliminary study of the Sitio Liano cave last month, expressed disappointment that treasure diggers have heavily disturbed the cave. He said 90% of the cave was heavily disturbed. "Na-disappoint ako. (I am disappointed). We cannot even establish the function of the cave," he told a forum attended by town officials.

The disturbance of the cave has rendered it very difficult, if not impossible, for archaeologists to reconstruct that era in the prehistory not only of Mindanao and the Philippines but also of Southeast Asia.

Dizon said it would have been best if the cave had not been disturbed so the exact positions of the artifacts and their associated materials could be studied "otherwise, they will become useless pieces for scientific archaeological study."

The "Maitum Jars" discovered in 1991 at Pinol Cave in Maitum, are now on display at the National Museum. They are "unparalleled in Southeast Asia" in that it is an exceptional archaeological assemblage. The nearly 2000-year old anthropomorphic jars of Maitum, bearing radiocarbon dates of "1930 plus or minus 50 BP (calibrated date of 5 BC to AD 225) and 1830 plus or minus 60 BP (calibrated date of AD 70 to 370)," are unique in that "they are like portraits of distinct individuals, of specific dead persons whose remains they guard," Dizon and Santiago said in their book, "Faces from Maitum."

In Tuesday's symposium, Governor Miguel Escobar will deliver the welcome address while Mayor Yabes will give an overview on cave finds.

Elizabeth Ramos-Palma Gil, the municipal accountant and public information officer of Maitum, will introduce Dizon while Fr. Albert Alejo, SJ, a social anthropologist and executive director of the Mindanawon Initiatives for Cultural Dialogue, will be the moderator. (MindaNews)