Accessioning/Cataloguing Block 21’s artifacts
Last May 6 to 8, archaeology students and volunteers from the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at USCcarried out accessioning and cataloguing of the artifacts recovered from the latest archaeological monitoring of the SRP Tunne/Subway Project. The activity was conducted at the University of San Carlos Main Covered Walk, near the University Museum.
To recall, on April 21 to 25, Block 21 of the SRP Tunnel Project, which traverses beneath Osmena Street and MacArthur Avenue along the intersection leading to Pier 1, was excavated using heavy equipment. Block 21 is one of the remaining portions of the planned tunnel set to be inaugurated early next year.
As part of the monitoring work, Kajima Construction Inc. informed National Museum of the coming excavation. National Museum in turn deputized me to monitor the excavation and collect as many artifacts as could be gathered. With a team of volunteer students and with the assistance of Tony Comaling of Kajima, four days of excavation using backhoe revealed colonial trash pits containing Qing dynasty ceramic sherds, glass bottles, and european ware sherds.
These artifacts were cleaned, dried and packed right on the site and were then sent to USC for accessioning two weeks later. A total of 1,006 artifacts were eventually accessioned and catalogued, adding to the existing artifacts database of Plaza Independencia, now reaching 11,597. This latest round started counting from artifact number 10,591 and continued the artifact count up to 11,596. Artifact counts started in 1985 during the Nishimura-University of Michigan Project which excavated portions of the plaza for the first time, hence the code name for the site VII-1985-F2 because the first excavations were done that year.
A few of the artifacts included in this latest accessioning came from Block 18 somewhere along Malacanang sa Sugbo site, or the old Customs House built in 1911. These artifacts are Chinese ceramics but of the Zhangzhou type (1520s-1600s or thereabouts), once called Swatow wares.
In general, the ceramics as well as glass bottles recovered from Block 21 are indicative of the late Spanis to Japanese Occupation period (1850s to 1940s), covering a hundred years of colonial artifacts that will now form part of the collection from Plaza Independencia that will be stored at Museo Sugbo, the new home of the National Museum Branch in Cebu.
Since only half of Block 21 has been excavated, the opening of the other half by the end of the month is eagerly awaited as this section is adjacent to the one opened in October 2008 that yielded burials and artifacts dating to the 15th-16th century.
I would like to thank my students from the Department of Sociology and Anthropologyand volunteers at USC who assisted me in this activity: John Monsanto, Popoi Senajon IV, Ma. Cecilia ‘Masi” Cabañes, Karen Dereche, Xenia Fabe, and Jessa Beron.