Porta Vaga Archaeological Site

porta vaga archaeological site
Porta Vaga Archaeological Site | @natmuseumph (National Museum of the Philippines) via Text by Gregg Alfonso Abbang and Timothy James Vitales | Poster’s images courtesy of Antonio Nazareno | photo enhancement by Randy Episcope, and poster by Timothy James Vitales | NMP Archaeology Division

The Porta Vaga Archaeological Site is situated in the hook-shaped peninsula of Cavite City at the province’s northern tip. It is named after the fortified gateway structure called “Porta Vaga” (New Gateway/Pintuang Bago), erected by the Spanish authorities in 1595 and stood until the 1940s before parts of Cavite City were razed during the Second World War. The Porta Vaga functioned as a fortification for the community within its moat, and the only maritime gateway to the province, particularly to the Hacienda San Roque, where galleon laborers resided at that time.

The Porta Vaga Site was the focus of the 1997-1998 archaeological fieldwork of the University of the Philippines-Archaeological Studies Program (UP-ASP), led by Eusebio Dizon, Wilhelm Solheim II, and Alfred Pawlik, along with archaeologists from the National Museum of the Philippines, who supervised the excavation and provided their technical expertise. The fieldwork aimed to locate the Porta Vaga ruins and to understand, through archaeology, the historical and cultural development of Cavite City as a maritime center during the Spanish colonial period.

The excavations revealed Porta Vaga’s significant ruins, such as the perimeter wall, pavements, and the remains of the gate, as well as parts of the old Ermita de Porta Vaga church. Layers of beach sand below the loam layer from the site’s soil profile indicated that a portion of the area was originally a waterfront. Various archaeological materials retrieved from the site, particularly pottery and trade ceramics, speak of Cavite City’s vibrant commercial life at the arrival of the Spanish and during the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade.

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