Shard find in Intramuros shows early form of writing

A NATIONAL Museum team has dug up a pot shard with an inscription around its shoulder, similar to the world-renowned Calatagan pot, at the San Ignacio archeological site in Intramuros.

The find, lying 140 centimeters below the surface at the ruins of the San Ignacio church, is seen as evidence of another ancient form of writing in the Philippines.

Most of the writing systems in the Southeast Asian region are derived from an ancient script used in India.

In contrast to other countries, the Philippines has very few artifacts that provide evidence of the earliest form of writing. These include the Laguna copper plate (900 AD), Butuan ivory seal (9th to 12th centuries), Butuan silver strip (14th to 15th centuries) and the Calatagan pot (15th century).

When Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi came in 1567, he observed that inhabitants read and wrote in their own system of writing using an alphabet.

The Tagalogs had their own alphabet, the baybayin, which was similar to those used by people in the South. The baybayin was in wide use in the 16th century, but its users began to wane in the following century.

Among ethno-linguistics groups in the Philippines, only three have retained the use of their syllabic scripts: the Hanunoo and Bahid Mangyan of Mindoro, and the Tagbanwa of Palawan.

The archaeological excavation at San Ignacio is another project being implemented jointly by the Cultural Properties and Archaeology Divisions of the National Museum and the Intramuros Administration.

This project is undertaken in connection with the plan of the IA to develop the area where the church ruins stand into an ecclesiastical museum.

Digging was started in June by the National Museum team made up of curator Angel P. Bautista, researchers Alfredo Orogo and Carmencita Mariano, artist Ernesto Toribio Jr., and Jimmy Fingcale.

Excavation in five squares yielded 500 pieces of archaeological material, of which the pot shard with inscription is considered the most significant find. (Malaya)

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