University of Cambridge > > Pitt-Rivers Archaeological Science Seminar Series > Constructing Identity in Death: A Case-study from Metal Period Philippines

Constructing Identity in Death: A Case-study from Metal Period Philippines

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Rosie Crawford.

This talk explores aspects of identity in a coastal Metal Period cemetery and ritual site, Napa, in the Philippines, through an analysis of the treatment of the dead. Over 50 burial jars (which contained 65 adults and 24 Subadults ≤ 5 years) and seven extended adult supine burials have been recovered from Locality 1, Napa, Catanauan. The most commonly recovered burial goods included beads (shell, glass and carnelian), worked and unworked shell, metal slag and iron blades/knives. Approximately 40% of jars included evidence for more than one set of remains with the maximum being four individuals. It is unclear if this relates to jar reuse or more complex secondary mortuary traditions. Due to the multiple occupancy of many jars, it is difficult to assess age and/or biological sex specific grave good distributions. However, iron blades/knives and perforated shell discs may be adult-specific items as they are never seen in association with jars that contain only children. While there does not appear to be a grave inclusion specific to children, only neonates (but not all) were buried within unique (re-purposed) jars. Additionally, six neonates, five foetuses aged 5 lunar months, and two foetuses aged 5-7 lunar months were deliberately interred within jars, potentially speaking to Metal Period attitudes to the timing of personhood and a social identity. It is concluded that Metal Period Philippine mortuary rituals were complex with some evidence for age being an important component of identity or personhood.

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