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The Center for Southeast Asian Studies > Projects > Ub-ufok Ad Fiallig Overview > Resources > Old Kiyyangan Village Teacher’s Archaeology Manual > Teaching Modules > Module 2

Module 2

Early Ifugao diet and environment

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  1. Pangkaalaman (comprehension)
    1. To identify plants and animals present in the Old Kiyyangan Village 1000 years ago
    2. To discuss early Ifugao diet through plant and animal remains from the Old Kiyyangan Village archaeological record
    3. To illustrate how early Ifugaos utilized their environment
    4. To discuss key archaeology terms, methods, and concepts
  2. Pandamdamin (values)
    1. To appreciate how early Ifugaos’ resourcefulness harnessed the environment
    2. To find significance in Ifugaos’ relationship with the environment
  3. Pangkasanayan (proficiency)
    1. To develop critical thinking skills and apply observation, reasoning, speaking, and writing skills
    2. To interpret soil stratigraphy and understand its importance in studying the past

Main Themes

Old Kiyyangan Village topics discussed in Module 2 that relate to “Pamumuhay ng mga sinaunang Pilipino” or Early Filipino life:

  1. Relationship between early Ifugaos and the environment
  2. How early Ifugaos utilized the environment


Ifugao culture history background

Excavated animal and plant remains from Old Kiyyangan Village can tell us about early Ifugao diet before Spanish colonization. By studying the animal and plant remains, data shows that early Ifugaos were consuming a wide variety of food and extensively utilizing the environment and its resources. Early Ifugaos were not dependent on rice farming alone, but also sustained themselves through fishing by the river, hunting in the forest, and raising domesticated animals.

Archaeology at Old Kiyyangan Village revealed that most of the animal remains were deer bones followed by that of pigs. Although most of the pig bones were from domesticated (farm-raised) pigs, there were also bones from wild pigs in Old Kiyyangan (Figure 1). This signifies that while early Ifugaos raised animals, they were mainly hunting animals (deer and wild pigs) as their source of meat (Figure 2). Anthropologist Roy Barton noted that early Ifugaos hunt in between rice harvests. They used spears and were accompanied by their dogs. In addition, early Ifugaos managed the forest into communal (inalahan/hinuob) and private (muyong) areas for conservation purposes, which protected their fields from landslides and allowed wild animals to flourish.

Early Ifugaos not only used animals for food but also for other purposes. For instance, pigs, chickens, and dogs were not raised for everyday consumption, but used as sacrificial offering for all kinds of ritual ceremonies and special occasions. The bones have cut and chop marks indicating that metal tools were used to butcher the animals (Figure 3).

Domesticated animals were also used to show status or rank in the community. According to Ifugao historian Lourdes S. Dulawan, social display of early Ifugao material wealth included animals in terms of the amount of food he or she prepared for the community during prestige feasts, like the uyauy and the hagabi. Lastly, animal bones were also used as jewelry. Archaeologists found evidence of polished or smoothed bone rings that early Ifugaos used as as armlets or bracelets (Figure 4).

Archaeologists also find remains of ancient plants from Old Kiyyangan Village. When plants decompose, they leave certain elements in the ground as well. But unlike animal bones, most of the plant remains can only be seen microscopically in a laboratory (Figure 5). The Old Kiyyangan plant remains were charcoal residues from broken pieces of cooking pots. After examining the charcoal, archaeologists found that each pottery piece contained different plant remains. One pottery piece contained remains of starchy crops that could be from taro (Tulwali- pihing), yam (Tuwali- gatuk), breadfruit (Filipino- kolo’), and arrowroot (Filipino- uraro). The other pottery piece contained food sources that are found all over Southeast Asia (including the Philippines), such as millet (Filipino- budbud) and sugarcane (Filipino- tubo’). Based on the stratigraphy (Figure 6), archaeologists found taro remains in the early (older) bottom layers and rice remains in the late (younger) upper layers. This means that early Ifugaos seemed to be primarily growing and eating taro before rice. The soil layer corresponding to taro was dated to about 700-900 years ago, while the layer that contained rice was 150-310 years ago.

Early Ifugaos also used plants for a variety of purposes: for building Ifugao houses (bale) (Figure 7), for carving wood objects, and for weaving. Plants also indicate social status in the Ifugao society. Rice, for example, is the most revered crop in Ifugao. Ritual ceremonies are held throughout the planting and harvesting cycle of rice (Figure 8).


Diet – The kinds of food that a person or a community habitually eats

Domesticated – Kept as animals in the farm; plants that Ifugaos cultivated as food

Charcoal residue – Burnt plant material remains

Archaeology Background

Archaeology is the study of the past through material remains left by human activity. Understanding soil stratigraphy is one of the most important archaeological methods used to interpret the past over periods of time. Archaeologists associate artifacts in relation to each other and in relation to time. To an archaeologist, the different layers of soil provide a timeline of the history of a place and the artifacts serve as material evidence or proof in interpreting these soil layers.

Stratigraphy is the sequence of soil layers that archaeologists study when they excavate a site. Archaeologists study soil stratigraphy in order to create a narrative or a history of the archaeological site. By carefully analyzing the sequence of soil layers and the associated artifacts, archaeologists can recount the historical timeline or chronology of a site, describe human activity and land-use over time, and even, identify human and natural events like warfare and floods.

Human activities and naturally decaying organic materials create these soil layers over time. Imagine a sliced piece of multi-layered cake, where the bottom layer is the oldest and the topmost layer the youngest (Figure 9). The further up the soil layer, the younger it is. The topsoil layer is the most recent layer and the current ground people walk on. In archaeology, this ordering of soil layers is called the Law of Superposition. Typically, we find older objects or artifacts in the bottom layers and more recent artifacts at the top. When artifacts are found deeper into the ground, the older they usually are. Archaeologists nevertheless have to keep an eye on any signs of disturbance in the layers that could mislead their interpretation. These disturbances maybe caused by underlying roots from nearby trees, by animals like rats that can move artifacts from its original place, and by every day human activity as well.

The Old Kiyyangan stratigraphy has seven soil layers. Layer VII is the oldest at 1.6 meters below the ground. Assuming there are no disturbances in layer VII, associated artifacts should be older than the rest of the artifacts found in the upper layers. The artifacts should also be a bit older than 700-900 years old. Remains of taro were found in layers V and VI 700-900 years ago, and rice remains were found in layer II 150-310 years ago. Animal bones were found throughout all layers of soil. The Old Kiyyangan stratigraphy tells us that as early Ifugaos settled the Old Kiyyangan Village, they primarily supported themselves by extensively using the land and its resources. Chronology of OKV tells us that land-use changed over time from taro ponds to rice terraces. The presence of both wild and domesticated animal bones throughout all layers indicates that early Ifugaos were not dependent on domesticated animals alone. Further analysis of animal remains shows that there were more wild animal bones compared to domesticated ones, which demonstrates that they were mostly hunting for their meat.


Archaeology – The study of the past through material remains left behind by human activity

Artifact – Material or object made by humans; artifacts are usually portable

Stratigraphy – The study of soil layers to determine the corresponding age of each layer

Topsoil – Top layer of soil, usually the modern layer in archaeology stratigraphy; the ground people currently walk on

Law of superposition – The ordering of soil layers according to time, where the bottom layers are older than the upper layers