The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Sunday, July 24, 2016


Philippines' oldest artworks in danger of disappearing
In this photo taken February 13, 2014, Roden Santiago, a museum guide in charge of the petroglpyhs site, gestures inside a one-room museum, which is located at the foot of the hillside, giving a summary of the prehistoric discoveries in the Philippines. On a small rock wall a short drive from the Philippine capital, enigmatic carvings that are believed to date back 5,000 years are in danger of disappearing before their mysteries can be solved. AFP PHOTO / Jay DIRECTO.

By: Mynardo Macaraig

BINANGONAN (AFP).- On a small rock wall a short drive from the Philippine capital, enigmatic carvings that are believed to date back 5,000 years are in danger of disappearing before their mysteries can be solved.

The 127 engravings of people, animals and geometric shapes are the Southeast Asian nation's oldest known artworks, but encroaching urbanisation, vandals and the ravages of nature are growing threats.

"Eventually they will disappear... preservation is out of the question," veteran anthropologist Jesus Peralta, who did an extensive and widely respected study of the carvings in the 1970s, told AFP.

The artworks have been declared a national treasure, regarded as the best proof that relatively sophisticated societies existed in the Philippines in the Stone Age.

"They show that in ancient times, the Philippines did have a complex culture. It's a recording of our ancestors," said Leo Batoon, a senior researcher of the National Museum.

Museum scientists believe the carvings date back to 3000 BC, based on carving tools and pottery shards discovered at the site, indicating they originated before the use of metal tools.

This makes them far older than the country's second oldest known artworks, a series of geometric shapes in the mountainous northern Philippines that are believed to date to 1500 BC, according to Batoon.

But museum workers say it is difficult to conclusively determine the age of the carvings -- scientifically referred to as 'petroglyphs' -- due to technical and financial constraints.

"Most of our artifacts in the museum are sent abroad and only if we have partners and proponents to spend for such dating," said Batoon.

Little known about carvings
Little else is known about the figures, or the people who etched them.

One clue is that many of the human carvings appear to be in a squatting position, which has led scientists to theorise that the area was a place of worship.

The carvings were first documented by acclaimed Philippine artist Carlos Francisco in 1965 while he was leading a Boy Scout troop on a hike.

Since then, they have been known as "the Angono Petroglyphs," after Francisco's hometown nearby.

The World Monuments Fund, a New York-based private group that works to protect historical sites, placed the Angono Petroglyphs on its list of endangered monuments in 1996 and has provided help in their preservation.

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has also placed the petroglyphs on its "tentative list" of world heritage sites.

But that has done little to stem the powerful tide of neglect.

The carvings are in mountains about 90 minutes' drive from Manila that only a few decades ago were entirely forested.

But most of the trees have since been chopped down to make way for the country's fast-growing population, with a holiday resort, a golf course and upper-class housing now surrounding the rock wall.

A real estate developer owns the land on which the petroglyphs sit.

He donated the hillside on which the carvings are located back to the national museum but allowed only a small buffer zone, and a road runs just 10 metres (33 feet) from the carvings.

Wind and rain, as well as plant roots creeping through the stone, have also damaged the soft rock where the carvings are etched.

The poorly funded national museum cannot afford to pay for adequate security so vandalism is also a constant worry.

People have scrawled their names on the rock and there are slash marks on some carvings that archaeologists have determined were only made recently.

Mining at a nearby gravel pit a few years ago also shook the ancient site, Roden Santiago, a national museum guide, told AFP.

Fortunately, after the museum made a request, the pit owners found a less threatening way to extract their minerals, according to Santiago, but he fears the foundations of the rock wall face more threats.

He said planned new housing developments nearby would mean more underground pipes, which could weaken the hillside.

And despite their rich importance to the nation's history, the carvings are not a major tourist attraction.

The national museum has constructed a small wooden viewing deck so visitors can get a good look at the petroglyphs without getting close enough to deface them, but there is little else to attract.

Tattoo artist Myke Sambajon did make the trip from Manila recently with his friends to see the carvings and said it was worth the long motorcycle ride despite being initially disheartened by rudimentary nature of the tourist site.

"I felt pride because I never knew our people had anything this old," Sambajon told AFP. "I thought only other people had these things. We realised we also have an ancient history."



© 1994-2014 Agence France-Presse






Today's News

April 24, 2014

Stedelijk Museum dedicates collection presentation to American painter Barnett Newman

Expected to fetch $1.9 million, Soviet space capsule up for sale at Lempertz in Belgium

Christie's New York to offer the collection of Edwin A. and Lindy Bergman

Exhibition of more than 25 vintage photographs by Bob Colacello opens at Steven Kasher Gallery

Key names of the 19th century featured at Sotheby's 19th Century European Art Sale

Art Brussels's 32nd edition brings together emerging galleries with more established ones

Pierre Soulages' first American exhibition in ten years opens at Galerie Perrotin

Exhibition broaches the notions of connections and vibrations, of mirrors between past and present

Exhibition of still lifes and select masterworks by Chaim Soutine opens at Paul Kasmin Gallery

Currier Museum of Art announces major donation from the estate of businesswoman May Gruber

Bonhams to sell largest single owner collection of Ivon Hitchens to come to market

Violin to be sold on behalf of Luthiers Sans Frontieres in Ingles & Hayday May auction

Solo exhibition of new works by Adriana Varejão opens at Lehmann Maupin

Exhibition of works of the '60s to the '80s by Hannah Wilke opens at Alison Jacques

Emil Nolde's "Tanzerin" leads $2.6 million Prints and Multiples Auction at Bonhams in San Francisco

Movie stars and moguls featured in Bonhams Los Angeles sale

"Letters of Remedy, the Graphic Work of Fishel Rabinowicz" on view at Neve Schechter

Philippines' oldest artworks in danger of disappearing

A recipe for success at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions

The Other Art Fair: The UK’s leading artist-led fair opens its sixth edition

New Museum hosts interdisciplinary residency with Jeanine Oleson

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- 100 nude women pose in Cleveland, reflecting on Trump

2.- West Kowloon Cultural District Authority appoints M+ Executive Director

3.- Hieronymus Bosch, Touched by the Devil: Movie has US premiere at Film Forum

4.- Masterpieces replaced by fakes in six national galleries in treasure hunt

5.- On the Verge of Insanity: Van Gogh 'suicide gun' on display in Amsterdam

6.- Getty Museum opens exhibition of illuminated manuscripts

7.- Two rolls of early Kodak film acquired by the George Eastman Museum

8.- Dark secrets of the man who opened architecture to the light

9.- Chinese artist Ai Weiwei's refugee life jackets in Vienna palace pond

10.- Gallery 19C brings together two views of Venice by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot



Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 

Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org theavemariasound.org juncodelavega.org facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful