Claim: The Ifugao rice terraces were already here when Jesus Christ was born
Facts: We have been taught in school that the Ifugao Rice Terraces, inscribed in the UNESCO Heritage List, are 2,000 years old. Some textbooks even go as far as 4,000 years old.
But a recent archeological study has changed all that.
Prof. Stephen Acabado of the Department of Anthropology of the University of California Los Angeles and head of the Ifugao Archaeological Project (IAP), which scoured the terraces of Ifugao for ten years said that the rice terraces could be as young as 400 to 500 years.
Using a variety of techniques including Carbon-14 dating, map comparisons, digging, faunal isotopic signatures, archaeobotanical datasets, and others, the team came out with the conclusion that rice paddies are fairly recent activities.
The team also used architectural energetics which generates estimates of the amount of labor and time to construct ancient monuments. The IAP is composed of the University of the Philippines, the National Museum of the Philippines, the Save the Ifugao Terraces Movement, Inc., and UCLA.
Acabado has since come out with a book and a dozen scholarly articles about their findings. He said that when he first broached the idea in 2009, it was met with hospitality by the Ifugaos. But they warmed up to it and embraced the idea.
“The results from the Ifugao Archaeological Project have boosted the Ifugao people’s efforts to document and study their culture more and also to incorporate aspects of Ifugao history into local education,” an article from the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Archaeology and Fine Arts said.
“In 2013, the Department of Education began to adopt the knowledge of Indigenous Peoples Education into the formal curriculum, and the findings of the Ifugao Archaeological Project have been incorporated into the textbooks starting this year,” it added.
As the article said in its title, older is not always better.