Tabon Caves

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Coordinates: 9°16′48″N 117°58′53″E / 9.279882°N 117.9814°E / 9.279882; 117.9814

The Tabon Caves are a set of caves north of Quezon municipality, in the south western part of the province of Palawan on Palawan Island, in the Philippines. The caves are named after the Tabon Scrubfowl. Tabon Caves is bordered on the south by the town proper of Quezon, Bgy. Panitian on the west, and the South China Sea on the north and east. The complex has 29 explored caves (only seven of which are open for public viewing), but 215 caves are known to exist on Lipuun Point.

Apparent skull carved in rock above main entrance - Palawan, Philippines

They are maintained by the National Museum,.[1] The major caves open to the public are Tabon Cave, Diwata Cave, Igang Cave, and Liyang Cave. The Tabon Man was discovered in the caves, one of the oldest remnants of human inhabitants found in the Philippines. Other remains that were excavated have remained onsite and have yet to be examined in detail.

Archaeological discoveries[edit]

The skull cap remains of the Tabon Man were discovered in the Tabon Caves. The remains are approximately 22,000-24,000 years old.[1] They were discovered by Dr. Robert B. Fox and his team from the National Museum of the Philippines in 1962. The team also found burial jars, like the Manunggul Jar, earthenware, jade ornaments and other jewelry, stone tools, animal bones, and human fossils dating back to 47,000 years ago;[2] the earliest human remains found in the Philippines.

This elaborate burial jar, found in the caves, is topped with two figures. The front figure is the deceased man. The rear figure is holding a steering paddle directing the boat and soul of the man to the afterlife.

The archaeological finds indicate habitation from 50,000 to 700 years ago while the limestone formation in the reservation dates back from 25 million years ago, or the Lower Middle Miocene Period, based on geological studies. The Lipuun Point Reservation, covering a 138-hectare island connected to the Palawan mainland by a mangrove forest, was declared a Site Museum Reservation in April 1972 and was made a priority site for tourism development in 1991 for its natural and cultural heritage.

Igang Cave Findings[edit]

Igang is one of the upper caves and one of the longest of the complex. It appears to have been the primary burial site and most of the burial jars were found here. Until 2013 no one gave any particular notice to the large brown and green forms that ring the inner entrance to the cave. However, an American tourist named Philip Maise, after closely reviewing cave photographs realized that he may be looking at large sculptures of Asian elephants. Asian elephants are still present on the neighboring island of Borneo. During the last ice age, they could have walked to Palawan.

At the entrance to Igang Cave there are several large possible sculptures depicting Asian elephants. Notice how closely the curvature of the back of the elephant in the inset photograph matches that of the sculpture. The sculptures themselves appear to have been made from an ancient form of cement. Igang Cave is one of the Tabon Caves located in the Philippines.



  1. ^ a b "Tabon Caves: Site of an important Philippine archaeological discovery". Palawan Council for Sustainable Development. Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  2. ^ "The Tabon Cave Complex and all of Lipuun". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. 16 May 2006. Retrieved 1 February 2009. 

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