Mummies in Europe could be from PH

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014


TWO mummies, if proven to be from the country, are likely to return to the Philippines as part of the recovered "lost cultural treasures".

Engr. Orlando Abinion of the National Museum shared two mummies in Europe are suspected to be from the country but have to go under investigation for certification.

Photos of a mummy, with exact location still unidentified, were shown to Abinion who claimed it may be a Cordilleran because of its seated position and tattoos. The mummy is currently in the hands of a private collector who remains anonymous to Abinion.

"It is convincing that it is ours but we need to investigate. And we need funding for that investigation," he said.

American anthropologist James Delay, organizer of the International Mummy Congress told Abinion they can carry out the investigation but an authorization is needed from the National Musuem.

However, the National Museum does not want to release an authorization and interfere with the investigation unless the mummy is identified ours.

Abinion has expressed disappointment over this decision mulling a privately funded probe instead.

Delay expressed he can look for private funding in United States and approach National Geographic to finance the investigation.

However, Abinion said it may mean giving the organization exclusive rights to the documentation adding he’s still thinking about conditions to be put in place if an investigation by NatGeo pushes through.

In the meantime, Abinion said he will try to converse with the National Commission for Culture and Arts, National Commission for Indigenous Peoples and the local governments concerned regarding the authorization for investigation in case they wish to pursue it.

Abinion and Delay agreed they will try to coordinate with the collector on how to acquire the mummy for investigation.

If proven ours and the collector decide to willingly turn it over to the Philippines, Delay suggested bringing the mummy first to the US and hold a mummy exhibition for two months for fund raising. The funds raised will be used for its transport and entombment.

Another mummy is assumed a Filipino in University of Granada, in Spain labeled “Momia de Filipina” which was already featured in Discovery Channel. Although the sitting position is the same as mummies in the country, Abinion said there are no tattoos on it which is an identification of Cordilleran mummies.

The mummy underwent a strontium isotope and a DNA sampling in Seattle and results show the mummy’s DNA does not match European, American and South American DNAs. Unfortunately, the laboratory where it was tested does not have collection of Asian DNAs for reference causing a delay in the process of identification.

Abinion who advocates preservation and protection of mummies continues to work in pushing the investigation of these mummies so they may be returned if confirmed one of our treasures. (Giovani Joy Fontanilla)

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on May 14, 2014.

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