Pinoy archaeologists unearth last ice age discoveries in Palawan

Published September 13, 2022, 1:27 PM

by Charie Mae F. Abarca

Following their re-excavation of the Pilanduk Cave in Palawan, Filipino archaeologists, together with indigenous Pala’wan community, unearthed new discoveries estimated to date back at the height of the last ice age.

University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD) Archaeologist Janine Ochoa, in a research article called “Tropical island adaptations in Southeast Asia during the Last Glacial Maximum: evidence from Palawan” presented new discoveries stemming back to the last ice age.

Ochoa, together with Ame Garong of the National Museum and Pala’wan community members re-excavated Pilanduk Cave in October 2016. Initially, the initiative was conducted to verify research information previously disclosed by Jonathan Kress and the National Museum in the 1970s.

Pilanduk Cave Archaeology Team (Photo courtesy of PCAT / University of the Philippines Diliman Information Office)

Among the latest discoveries, according to UPD information office, include the following: “evidence for specialized deer hunting and freshwater mollusc foraging, Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) fossils for the tiger and remains of other native mammal and reptile fauna of Palawan.”

Bone of a tiger’s foot unearthed during the excavation (Photo courtesy of Janine Ochoa / University of the Philippines Diliman Information Office)

Apart from these, Ochoa revealed that their research likewise uncovered “new radiocarbon dates,” securely placing the age of human occupation of Pilanduk Cave at the last ice age approximately 20,00 to 25,000 years ago.

Newly-discovered findings, as stated in the team’s research, corroborate the results of earlier excavations that identified Pleistocene occupation of the site. The results, according to the team of archaeologists, added to the evidence for the “shifting foraging behaviours of modern humans occupying variable tropical environments across Island Southeast Asia.”

“[Pilanduk Cave] has the best preserved archaeological record from any site in the Philippine archipelago. There are not many LGM sites in the Philippines because many are likely submerged underwater when the coastlines and the sea levels were much lower during the LGM,” said Ochoa.