H. Otley Beyer




Philippine Ethnographic Series

Beyer’s Philippine Ethnographic Series was getting some publicity. A number of volumes had already reached Harvard and visiting social scientists were being shown the collection every time they came to visit Manila. The American governors-general came to know about its existence and so also a few Filipino leaders and U.P. President, but its contents have not been tapped by another pair of hands except its collector until Dr. F. D. Holleman, the Dutch specialist on custom law came in 1930 to select the material which became the Philippine Customary Law in 11 volumes. As President Rafael Palma was the chairman of the Philippine Customary Law Committee which made arrangements with the Adat Law Foundation of Indonesia, the work was facilitated as Beyer himself was a member of that Philippine committee.

It is not to be supposed that there were no other scholars interested in the prehistory of the Philippines and Southeast Asia. In fact Profesor Beyer was in communication with them, so that when the First Far Eastern Prehistoric Congress was held in Hanoi in January-February, 1932, he became the official delegate from the Philippines. He spent some five weeks in northern Indo-China and South China and learned about the existence of rice terraces in certain areas there. This influenced his thinking later about the origin of Northern Luzon rice terraces. He presented three papers before the Congress.

During his absence Captain F.G. Roth found sometime in February 1932 a number of Neolithic stone tools and other artifacts at Cuenca, Batangas. Soon after his arrival, Prof. Beyer visited the Cuenca site and found it quite revealing because it was very extensive and warranted all the attention that it needed. So from 1932 to 1937 work was focused on this area. Beyer himself wrote:

More than 120 square miles altogether were explored during this Survey, and the total collections obtained number several hundred thousands of specimens. They were chiefly from the Stone and Bronze Ages – and it was proven than Batangas had a barrio population 3,000 years ago eristic of the people were worked on during the course of the Survey.

With the succession of archaeological turn-over from Philippine sites since the discovery of Novaliches in 1926, distinguished pre-historians came to Manila to visit Professor Beyer. In 1929 his own professor from Harvard, Dr. Roland B. Dixon, spent a month in Manila with him to study and familiarize himself with the funds so far known. Dr. P. V. van Stein-Callenfels, of Batavia also paid H. Otley Beyer a visit; and so also Fr. D. J. Finn of Hongkong.

As a result of Prof. Beyer’s archaelogical work, the Second Far Eastern Prehistoric Congress was held in Manila in February 1935. Nearly 20 scientists and pre-historians from some seven different oriental countries participated. Dr. G. H. R. von Koenigswald, of prehistroic Java man fame, being among those who read a paper. Beyer himself presented two important papers "A Report on Prehistoric Beads and Other Ancient Jewelry in the Far East" and " The New Stone Age in Batangas Province, ca, 1000 B.C."

From 1935 up to the outbreak of the Pacific War in December 1941, Prof. Beyer was busy concentrating on Philippine archaeology and prehistory. He had minor explorations in the Visayan Islands and Northern Luzon. In 1935 his first article on tektites appeared, he contributed a long study on the prehistory of the Philippines; and started catalogues of two archaeological sites. Then in 1938 Prof. Beyer and Dr. Eduardo Quisumbing represented the Philippines at the Third Far Eastern Prehistoric Congress at Singapore and Malacca. During the congress the French government presented him to order of "Officer d’Academie" in recognition of his contributions to the prehistory of Southeast Asia. To the Sixth Pacific Science Congress he sent two papers, "The Stone Age in the History of Luzon" and "Philippine Archaeology and Its Relation to the Origin of the Pacific Islands Population".

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