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5,000 year-old ancient settlement discovered in Butuan City

BUTUAN CITY, Sept. 14 — A Neolithic or stone age settlement estimated to be 5,000 years old or 5,000 B.C (Before Christ) was discovered and dug up recently by archeologists and geologists in Barangay Bonbon this city now called “The Shell Midden Site.”

A "midden" is an occupation site where aboriginal people left the remains of their meals. At some sites, substantial deposits grew over generations of use of the same area, and some middens are a few meters deep.

“When aboriginal people visited or decided to settle in a certain area, they sometimes intentionally left waste remains of the food they had consumed leaving top layer of the midden pile. This is because next people visiting the settlement could see what had just been harvested and would choose something else to eat so they didn't over-use the resources,” Butuan Regional Museum In Charge and Curator Evangeline Tamayo said.

Tamayo told the PNA that in the case of the Barangay Bonbon Shell Midden aboriginal site discovery, stockpile of sea shells in different varieties left over of the seafoods the Butuan City aborigines consumed were found or dug up.

The Bonbon Shell Midden is similar to Sydney’s Cockle Shells Midden aboriginal site in Australia that dates back 5,000 years old or 5,000 B.C., archeologist Tamayo said.

National Museum of the Philippines archeologist Mary Jane Louise Bologna, one of those who discovered and dug up the Bondon, Butuan City Shell Midden Site told the PNA that, at present, the Philippines had no 14C Carbon Dating Back equipment and facilities. It was the group of geologist headed by Dr. Ricarte Javelosa who estimated the age of the Bonbon Shell Midden site.

“Truly Butuan City is an ancient city as many sites here we called as ancient sites were discovered after the discovery of the 4th century Balanghai boats in Barangay Libertad in 1974,” Bologna said.

Bologna said the Bonbon Shell Midden Site is much older than the ancient boats.

Recently, archeologists and geologists also discovered ancient corals dating back 7,000 years old in Barangays Bancasi near the airport and Pigdaulan village.

Bologna however said that one major obstacle facing the discovery is that the area or land where the Shell Midden Site is located is privately owned by a prominent family of traders in Butuan City.

“We hope the City Government of Butuan will negotiate with the owners or owner. The Shell Midden Site is one of the oldest in the world and there is a need to preserve it for historical purposes and cultural heritage values occupied once by stone-age people," she said, adding that the find will surely attract tourists, students and archeologists. (PNA) DCT/LAM/BS/mec

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