Mountains and Sea: Case Studies in Coastal, Riverine, and Upland Archaeology of Ilocos Sur
Author: Michael Armand P. Canilao
This book is a preliminary attempt to present a history of Ilocos Sur through the lens of historical archaeology. The raw archaeological data analyzed in this book was the product of two seasons of archaeological surveys and excavations conducted in 2011 and 2012 through the support of the Provincial Government of Ilocos Sur (PGIS). Interesting data about Ilocos history has been unearthed after these field seasons. Such would be of immense interest for scholars of history and archaeology, chiefdoms, early historical and contact period archaeology, mortuary analysis, ancient maritime traditions, etc. The regional survey conducted through the Ilocos Sur Archaeology Project (ISAP) accounts for the three main geographic locales of Ilocos Sur, namely: mountain interiors, coastal plains, and connecting the two, the Gran Abra river. Huge swaths of Ilocos Sur are geographically within the rugged Cordillera mountain range. This backbone of Luzon in fact dips abruptly towards the West Philippine Sea, forming a spectacular feature—the Banauang Gap, a stunning display of mountains and sea.
Through ISAP we now know that Sapilang site in Sinait Municipality is the ancient village of Calanutian in the epic Biag ni Lam-ang. This all-important site has received focused excavation programs in 2011 and 2012. The effort has revealed the intricate connection of this coastal polity with the Indian Ocean World with links to as far as mainland Southeast Asia, Annam and Siam, Indo-Malayo peninsula, and China. Through ISAP, various historical caves and rockshelters have also been surveyed at the highland Municipalities of Quirino, Alilem, and Sugpon. The research has revealed the close connection between the Bago indigenous group and neighboring Bontok, Kankanaey, Ibaloi, and Tingguian/ Itneg. An interesting burial tradition called the Danac tradition was also seen in Sugpon. This particular coffin tradition features a hollowed out cylindrical wood container used as a coffin. Finally, preliminary site visit at Pandan site (Caoayan Municipality) has revealed an ancient biray boat, also called casco and virey by the Spaniards, and sampan by “boat people” in mainland Southeast Asia and Southern China.