Excavation

The primary method for this research is still excavation. For this season we excavated specifically at the Ille tower karst, at a rice field next to the tower and at the Makangit tower karsts southwest from Ille. This season's work at Ille continued the excavation that was started in 1999, continued in 2000, and last excavated in 2002. The study concentrated in the area of the cave platform in front of the two main cave mouths labeled "West mouth" and "East mouth". In areas where previous excavations were known, the back fill was hurriedly taken out of the excavation area. The gaping hole left by treasure hunters at the 2002 excavated area was cleaned, and the pile of loose material that was left next to the hole was dry screened for artefacts.

Map of Ille and its surroundings with the location of excavations indicated.

The original 1 m x 1 m grid map of the site was followed. Further mapping activity was done, extending the land area plotted to accommodate the new areas in the landscape that were investigated. A pocket transit, leveling instrument and total station were utilised for the mapping of the landscape. Most measurements at upper levels were done directly from the datum point, using a leveling instrument. At the deeper levels of the excavation, a local datum point was established for the East mouth, West mouth and Outlier excavation areas.

The areas chosen for excavation were based on the principle that the objective of going down to the deepest and oldest cultural layer was still a primary goal. It was therefore very reasonable to carry-on the excavation at the areas worked at in the previous seasons, expanding the adjacent areas for better working access as the excavation went deeper. Excavation at the area called "Outlier" was based purely on the idea that burials seem to concentrate near the cave mouths. The areas where the outlier excavation was located was thought to be the outlier of the burial concentration – thus a good area to excavate quickly to deeper levels. The results mentioned below proved us glaringly wrong in our assumptions.

Excavation generally followed the sequence of quickly digging out the back fill of previous excavations, or for the outlier area, clearing the surface of the excavation area. At new excavation areas, the scraping of the surface followed a series of 10 cm arbitrary spits until a clear natural contour could be followed. All features were recorded in plan form and in the vertical profile when possible. A recording system that gives emphasis on both the horizontal and the vertical record was earnestly applied.

For all hearths uncovered, and at the levels below the shell midden layer at the East mouth, the entire matrix was floted and wet sieved for the recovery of plant and animal remains as well as missed artefacts.

At the end of the season, all excavated areas, including the treasure hunter's pit inside the cave, were lined with plastic sacks and back-filled in anticipation of future excavations.

Open site excavation and off-site sampling

In line with the objective of looking for a possible habitation site that can be associated with the Ille data, a test excavation was made on a seasonal rice field southwest of the Ille tower. We excavated in a specific spot of the field next to Ille, guided by informant information. The local farmer, Danilo Libudan, remembered seeing sherds of pottery in the field years back. Though the information was very sketchy, it was decided to test excavate the land pointed out by Mr. Danay. The area where the excavation took place was a dove-tailing action by the team. The test pit was an attempt to look for an open site, it however did not yield any cultural remains. The pit was nevertheless utilised for off-site sampling to look for signatures of human-based transformation of the landscape.

 

 
 

The information in this website is maintained by Dr. Victor Paz and the Archaeological Studies Program, University of the Philippines.
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