Archaeologists have recently published in the International Journal of Osteoarcheology, a full report on the discovery of early Holocene burials while excavating in the Ille cave, Palawan, Philippines, where the bones of one individual bear the marks of a complex de-fleshing ritual.
The island of Palawan, situated between Borneo to the south and the Philippine archipelago to the north and east, is important for its links with the Sundaic region of Southeast Asia. Many cave sites are known from the island, including Tabon Cave, which has the earliest recovered human remains in the Philippines (c. 45,000 years old).
Cremation burial as found. Ille cave site in the background. Images: V. Paz & H. Lewis
Ille is a solution cave and rockshelter at the base of a c. 75m-high karst tower near the village of New Ibajay, El Nido. The site comprises east and west rock-shelter mouths, opening onto a relatively flat platform of silt loam, in a setting of light woodland. In 1998 the National Museum of the Philippines began a long-term survey and excavation programme in the region, including Ille and other nearby caves and their surroundings.