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  • Writer's pictureChristian Malnawa

3,500-year-old rock art discovered in Cagayan cave

Updated: Jul 5, 2021

Peñablanca, Cagayan—Dr. Andrea Jalandoni, Research Associate of the National Museum of the Philippines, said a dating rock art revolution is now expected to commence in South East Asia after having found recently a 3,500-year-old dated rock art in a cave in Peñablanca.

The lead author of the research paper “First Directly Dated Rock Art in Southeast Asia and the Archaeological Implications” added that they are expectant that these will pave the way for strengthening and continue giving importance and care to our country’s valuable cultural resources.

As cited in the research paper published in Radiocarbon Journal, the dated rock art discovered in Hermosa Tuliao Cave is considered to be the first-ever dated rock art in South East Asia.

The black pigment human-like drawing found in the cave was examined through a radiocarbon dating method.

“Ang “black pigment human figure” ay bahagi ng ilang mga dibuho, kasama pa ang dalawang “human figures,” ilang mga dahon at mga bilog na guhit,” the Cagayan Provincial Information Office said.

In a press conference by the National Museum of the Philippines streamed live on YouTube, Jalandoni said that they do not know which group of people made the art.

However, there are two groups of people being considered having crafted the art: the Agta or the Negrito group and the Austronesians.

Jalandoni added that as to current understanding, Austronesians came to the Philippines around 4,000 years ago and situated on areas around Peñablanca, while the Negritos came before them.

“We were hoping that by dating the art, we’d know which group made the art. If it was over 4,000 years old, we would know it was made by the Negrito group. But now, it’s still a mystery,” Jalandoni stated.

As for Noel Hidalgo Tan, Senior Specialist in Archaeology of Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaeology and Fine Arts in Bangkok, he said the recent findings forces them to become more cautious about attributing black rock art as ‘recent, and encourages them to embark on direct dating for more rock sites in the region.”

Meantime, Cagayan PIO wrote that the date seen in the rock art is supporting the studies made to first human occupation activities in Peñablanca including the shreds of evidence on hunting at Eme and Arku Caves and the pottery works in Callao Cave.

Peñablanca, they added, is considered the hotspot of the most important archaeological findings in the country since 2000 along with the fossils of 67,000-year-old Homo Luzonensis, which are believed to be the latest early human species.


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