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Predictive Model of the Balatok- Tonglo- Aringay
Ancient Gold Trade Trail in Southwestern Cordillera

Michael Armand P. Canilao

Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois at Chicago
Archaeological Studies Program, University of the Philippines Diliman

corresponding author: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Using the Least Cost Path method in raster GIS analysis, a predictive model was created to estimate the location of an ancient gold trail connecting the Balatok/ Acupan mines with Tonglo gold bulking center and Aringay coastal settlement within Benguet and La Union Provinces. To derive the model, ASTER global digital elevation model was used in tandem with WorldView2 multispectral and high resolution imagery. The paper shows that GIS and Remote Sensing methods immensely aid in delimiting the research study area in the search for trails thereby resulting to efficient targeting of time and resources for second order excavations.

The work is part of a broader research on evanescent markets (Canilao 2017; Allegre 1998) for gold in Northwestern Luzon Island during the Early Historical Period (10th to the early 20th centuries). Here, the focus was given to the journey of gold from the ancient gold mines of Akupan/ Balatok to Tongo bulking village and eventually to Aringay and Agoo coastal villages. Predictive modelling using GIS in tandem with Satellite Imagery analysis was used in this paper.

The location of Tonglo Village has been pinpointed at Tuba, Benguet (Canilao 2013). As published in Scott (1988), Balatok/ Acupan is plotted in the map of Father Antolin dating back to 1789. This is corroborated by the Quirante account from 1624. Finally, Aringay has been historically documented as a coastal maritime trading settlement based on the 1574 account of Mirandaola. The maritime exchange network within which Akupan/ Balatok- Tonglo- Aringay was articulated into may have span the Indian Ocean and South China Sea wherein products such as porcelain, silk, cotton, beeswax, gems, beads, and precious minerals, most notably gold, were circulated. . . . . read more

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