Other stories on the Maitum caves 
The find inside Pinol Cave
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
The find inside Pinol Cave

(Excerpts from the paper presented at the 14th national Conference on local and National History in 1993 by Eusebio Z. Dizon, PhD, Museum Curator I, Archeology Division, National Museum).

Our Southeast Asian neighbors have nothing of this type of archaeological find. We should be extremely proud as Filipinos in discovering the amazing anthropomorphic potteries, which could suggest the backbone of our own culture. Never before have we seen such a magnificent archaeological assemblage.

Given the opportunity to conduct extensive archaeological research, we can reconstruct them properly. We will attempt to interpret their social structure, political organization, economic system, religious beliefs and symbolisms.

There may be four kinds of cover or lid, namely: anthropomorphic motif or head; trunconical with simple appliqué design; simple ovaloid with four ear handles; and trunconical with adze-shaped and round spinning shaped motif.

Among the covers, the heads were in various facial expressions. Traces of smile, joy, and contentment were in some faces. Others looked very sad and seemed to have been crying. Still others have their teeth well-fallen. All kinds of facial expressions have been encapsulated in these collections. These were the products of their own local artists and potters from hundreds of generations.

Unique and intriguing

(Excerpts from the foreword of Dr. Gabriel S. Casal, director, National Museum, from the book FACES FROM MAITUM by Eusebio Z. Dizon and Rey A. Santiago)

The anthropomorphic pottery… is an exceptional archaeological assemblage. According to Dr. Eusebio Dizon, who headed the team, this archaeological find is unparalleled in Southeast Asia. Consultations with his colleagues at two international conferences in Thailand and Indonesia in 1991 and 1992 elicited much excitement and interest from archaeologists from Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, Burma and Indonesia… This earthenware pottery is remarkably unique and intriguing.

Who were these people? When, and how did they live?

(Excerpts from FACES FROM MAITUM, The Archaeological Excavation of Ayub Cave, by Eusebio Z. Dizon and Rey A. Santiago)

The discovery in 1991 of anthropomorphic burial jars in a cave site in Maitum, province of Sarangani-formerly South Cotabato- caused great excitement. For one, no similar anthropomorphic types have emerged in any Philippine archaeological sites. In terms of designs, this pottery assemblage approximates the Kalanay site in Masbate, central Visayas, and the Tabon Caves of Palawan in western Philippines. Anthropomorphic pottery has been found in Bacong, Negros in western Visayas and in Huyop-hoyopan, Albay, in southeastern Luzon. There is also the famous Manunggul “Ship of the Dead” of Palawan, portraying a soul being ferried to the afterlife. The burial jars of Kulaman Plateau in southern Mindanao, including those carved out of limestone, also enlarge our picture gallery from the past because of their anthropomorphic motifs. Sketchy faces made up of eyes, nose and mouth appear in many pots excavated in 14th century sites in Calatagan, Batangas.

But the faces depicted in the pottery of Maitum are unique. They are like portraits of distinct individuals- of specific dead persons whose remains they guard. Some faces are thin with pointed chins and shriveled puckered mouths associated with the toothless or the aged. Other heads wear a smile displaying a full set of teeth. A patch of black paint on the head indicates where hair should be. Others with perforations suggest a more realistic portrayal. Had hemp fiber filled those holes to represent tuffs of hair? Who were these people? When, and how did they live?

… the risks taken hardships endured by the archaeological team are amply compensated by its results: Two conventional radiocarbon dates of 1830+- 60 B.P. [calibrated date of A.D. 70 to 370]; and 1920+-50 B.P [calibrated date of 5 B.C to A.D. 225] were obtained from soot samples scraped from inner and outer wall of a small earthenware vessel found inside Jar 21, one of the burial jars found in situ. (Excerpts from FACES FROM MAITUM, The Archaeological Excavation of Ayub Cave, by Eusebio Z. Dizon and Rey A. Santiago)

The artifacts are on exhibit, entitled “Faces of Maitum: An Exhibition of Anthropomorphic Pottery,” at the National Museum. The Provincial Government of Sarangani and the Municipality of Maitum are working out their retrieval and exhibit in a local museum here.

[Reproduced by the Maitum Information Office and Municipal Tourism Council, Municipality of Maitum]