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“HYPOTHESIS OF PETER BELLWOOD AND EUSEBIO DIZON”. The batanes archeological and the “Out of Taiwan” project for Austronesian Dispersal. THE BATANES ISLANDS. 150 km from southern tip of Taiwan 200km from north coast of Luzon Separated by:

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hypothesis of peter bellwood and eusebio dizon


The batanes archeological and the “Out of Taiwan” project for Austronesian Dispersal

the batanes islands
  • 150 km from southern tip of Taiwan
  • 200km from north coast of Luzon
  • Separated by:

- Balintang channel and Babuyan islands

- bashi channel

  • 3 inhabited islands:

- batan

- sabtang

- itbayat

  • part of Pleistocene land bridge but no geological evidence that this occur
  • First settled by neolithicpoputlations

Bellwood stated that there is contact between southern part of Taiwan and Batanes Island through trading. There are boat like shaped made of wood and stone and also based on the evidences the researchers had found like the artifacts, pottery, nephrite and slate. This contact was made through trading. And there is no evidence that their is Pleistocene.

cultural sequence
  • 3 provisional chronological phases of batan:

- Sunget phase

- Naidi phase

- Raikwaydi phase

  • 3 provisional chronological phases of Itbayat: (parallel to batan)

- Torongan

- Anaro

- Garayao


Summary of the current state in batanes

  • Pre – 4500 BP no evidence of human presence
  • The oldest human activity in Torongon cave is dated 4450 – 4080 BP
  • Sunget was occupied from 3200 BP
  • Torongan and sunget occupations continued into the first millennium BC, with Taiwan nephrite and slate occurring at sunget but not yet found in Torongan cave.
  • Anaro and Naidi, the pottery changes after 2500 BP. Nephrite and slate continued to be imported from taiwan (via Lanyu) to Itbayat for local manufacture for artifacts.
  • Garayao and Rakwaydi 1000BP to 1587 AD ethnographic Itbayaten and Ivatan cultures, widely established on bataan after the Iraya eruption.
excavated sites torongan cave itbayat
EXCAVATED SITES Torongan Cave, Itbayat
  • Where the oldest assemblage known in batanes come from.
  • Difficulty of landing boats given the verticality and height of itbayat cliffs is quite possible.
  • 30 m high tunnel about 120 m long of torongan river
  • Excavation in 2004 and 2005, inwashed layer of exterior topsoil was found:

- 40-65 cm depth

- released by forest clearance

- occupational activity

- in 2005, all eroded away

  • Have 4 circle-stamped sherds:

- white lime / undecorated plain

- red-slipped sherds

sunget central batan
Sunget, Central Batan
  • Discovered during road construction

- more of volcanic ash

- 2 identified areas of occupation:

* Sunget top terrace

* Sunget main terrace

  • Sunget material was found by the Kamamoto team in 1982 was Neolithic related to:

- Neolithic date in taiwan

- assemblages of stamped

- red-slipped pottery in cagayan

kumamoto team in 1982
Kumamoto team in 1982
  • Sunget pottery is mainly red-slipped and includes:

- Globular restricted vessels which were probably placed on tall ring feet with everted tall and unthickened rims some being concave in profile to take lips that have thin shallow external grooves.

- Open bowls with direct rim, mostly rounded but with a few on ring feet. Some are externally decorated of close-set stamped circles.

- Circular-sectioned lugs or handles, attached either horizontal or vertically to the sides of globular restricted vessels.

  • Has 2 biconical spindle whorls:

- one decorated with stamped circles

-> this links to many contemporary Neolithic sites in northern and eastern taiwan.

-> rare but similar whorls also occur in 3500-2500 BP cagayan valley sites.


Other Sunget artifacts includes:

- large number of notched

- flat ovate pebble/sinkers

  • Stone adzes including stepped ones occur in Yuanshan and Beinan cultural horizons in Taiwan as well as in Cagayan neolithic sites indeed possible that many of these adzes were brought to Batanes.
  • One very small Sunget quadrangular adze returned from Japan to Manila in 2005 is almost certainly of Fengtian nephrite.
  • There is also:

- tanged quadrangular adze

- point of black slate

both presumably from taiwan.


Remarkable lithic absence from Sunget/ Batanes sites were:

- evidence of flaked tone tools

- caves or rock shelters except for one sherd in mavatory shelter on batan.

  • Such sites were apparently only occupied when there was a need for defense or concealment.

Athoil Anderson suggests that the torngan and sunget dates are contaminated by:

- uptake of ancient radiocarbon in the food residue

- marine shell samples

(in the case of torongan cave).

  • He accepts the 2nd millennium BC dates settlers from Taiwan.
  • He quotes from arecent paper that freshwater foods and limestone-rich environments in northern europe as well as marine foods can contain resevoir effects.
  • Bellwood and Dizon acknowledge that radiocarbon can often be wrong for many reasons connected with contaminations , reservoir effects and poor content.
They offer these following observations:

Batanes island have no significant freshwater fish and shellfish resources

Particular lies over a volcanic ash sequence that is at least 5 m deep of rods . Furthermore, the mahatao shoreline is of volcanic rock, not limestone.

The overall cultural sequence of the batanes islands, in the assemblages of Torongan and Sunget, with their strong Taiwan and Cagayan neolithic affinities, are clearly older in stylistic terms than those of Naidi, which tends to resemble. Iron age assemblages in the Cagayan valley in terms of pottery.

anaro and naidi



  • Naidiphase assemblages continue on Batan island.
  • Present in naidi:

- quite sharp carinations

- vessel rims

  • Disappear:

- notched pebbles “sinkers”.

  • Pottery seems to be very widespread.

- this suggests that a large population was already in occupation.

  • Remarkable site is the elongated limestone hilltop.
  • Flat-topped limestone ”mesa”.
  • 3 locations:

- Anaro 1- recent materials

- Anaro 2-pottery

-horned barkcloth beater of volcanic rock

- Anaro 3- 1 square meter

- spindle whorls

* In 2005, Anaro 4 was found – new cleared field strewn pottery with sunget rim styles.


Separate but overlapping occupations (300 and 1000 BP).

  • Nephrite was imported and worked into artifacts like:

- rings

- bracelets

- penannular earrings

  • Anaro material is fragmentary.
  • Hung Hsiao-chun able to show that other artifacts of taiwan nephrite occur in neolithic sites in the Philippines.
  • The nephrite raw material imported to Anaro for on-the-spot manufacture.

The evidence from torongan and sunget that supports a taiwan to batanes north-to-south colonizing directionality includes:

- pottery vessels

- waisted hoe

- taiwan slate and nephrites

- bioclonical spindle whorls

- notched stone sinkers

  • Taken overall, material culture for the batanesneolithic in eastern taiwanbeween 4500 and 4000 BP is so strong that one is tempted to link the movement with the linguistic establishment of PROTO-MALAYO-POLYNESIAN and the origins of the extra-formosan subgroups of Austronesian languages.

Solheim and Anderson

  • Kuroshio Current
  • Nephrite and slate