Given its regional scope and good provenience information, the Guthe Collection offers a rare opportunity to examine both the spatial distribution and the cultural context of artificial cranial modification (ACM) in the archaeological record of the central and southern Philippines. A combination of visual classification and discriminant function analysis was used to classify the cranial sample into modified and unmodified groups. Following this, the relative frequency of each class of crania by island was explored. The results show that 95 percent of the artificially modified crania in this sample were recovered from the Visayan group, and most of these were found on the islands of Samar and Tablas. Not only did these two islands have the greatest percentage of modified crania (among islands with a sample size greater than one), they were also the only islands from which crania of ambiguous modification status were recovered. On the basis of these results, it would appear that the practice of ACM may have been more common among historic populations on Samar and Tablas than on other islands in the study region. Statistical tests were then conducted in order to explore the hypothesis that cranial modification was an elite practice. The available evidence suggests that the practice of ACM in the central and southern Philippines was not limited to members of the social elite.


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pp. 28-42
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