Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. This often quoted line accurately explains what lies in store for us once we cease to be a part of the living world. This was also the fate of our ancestors – who are just now being rediscovered through great efforts of excavation and digging deep into the ground. Many answers about the past lie beneath the earth’s surface with clues scattered in the form of human bones, artifacts, and even long lost cities and villages. This article is about one such archaeological find on Mount Maclayao in a place known as Sitio Kamhantik, deep in the Philippine province of Quezon, where a village that is believed to be more than a thousand years old was unearthed.
Also known as the Limestone Tombs of Kamhantik, this site marks the location of an ancient burial ground that is being linked to the Tagalogs, an organized group of people that lived in areas that are a part of the present-day Philippines before the arrival of Spain in 1521. Discovered in 2011 by archaeologists from Manila, the collection of fifteen graves made entirely of limestone are the very first of its kind ever found in the country. Although most of their contents had been taken by intruders, some bone fragments remained and were collected and successfully carbon dated as far back to the years 890 to 1030 AD.
Sadly, everything else was looted by treasure hunters that had discovered a portion of the site before local authorities could protect it. The people in the area reported that a group of foreigners had trekked up to the area of the Kamhantik ruins before anyone else and may be the group responsible for the plundering of the previously unknown heritage site. In other words, tangible pieces of our history may still exist either in the personal vaults of rich collectors or in different historical exhibits all over the world – and while it is a shame that these important artifacts could not be saved, studied, and displayed in the Philippines, the thousand year old village of Kamhantik remains one of the strongest links to a progressive and developing people that have since been forgotten.