Researchers claim Melaka sultanate began earlier

A research team commissioned by the state of Melaka (Malacca) is proposing to push the founding date of the Melaka Sultanate from 1402 to 1298. The change of date is based on an alternate version of the Malay Annals, and it’ll be interesting to see what evidence is presented for the proposed change. From what I understand, the Malay Annals aren’t historically accurate – the earlier chapters explaining the founding of Melaka by Parameswara, a prince from Palembang reads more like a mythological account rather than actual fact. Also, the annals themselves were only commissioned in the early 17th century.

Melaka Malay Sultanate Begins In 1278, Claims Research Team
Bernama, 17 April 2010

The Melaka Malay Sultanate began in 1278 and not in the 1400s, as discovered by a research team appointed by the Melaka government.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said the year (1278) was chosen based or the Raja Bongsu version of the Malay Annals or the “Sulalatus al-Salatin” (Raffles 18).

Following the discovery, the research committee, chaired by Melaka Islamic University College vice-chancellor Prof. Emeritus Datuk Wira Dr Mohd Yusoff Hashim, agreed that Melaka began as a political entity, known as the Melaka Malay Sultanate, in 1278,” he added.The Melaka Malay Sultanate began in 1278 and not in the 1400s, as discovered by a research team appointed by the Melaka government.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said the year (1278) was chosen based or the Raja Bongsu version of the Malay Annals or the “Sulalatus al-Salatin” (Raffles 18).

Following the discovery, the research committee, chaired by Melaka Islamic University College vice-chancellor Prof. Emeritus Datuk Wira Dr Mohd Yusoff Hashim, agreed that Melaka began as a political entity, known as the Melaka Malay Sultanate, in 1278,” he added.


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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

2 thoughts on “Researchers claim Melaka sultanate began earlier”

  1. As a layman, I consider that the research team has too easily concluded that the year, which the Melaka’s sultanate began in 1278 or 1262 ?, just based on the one and only evidence, i.e., the Raja Bongsu’s Malay Annals / manuscripts. Are the manuscripts reliable enough to be used as a hard evidence to rewArite the current history ? Had the research team read and carefully studied the other relevant data, such as the well known travelers’ reports from that period to crosscheck the reliability of the data given in the manuscripts ? We would note that there were three well known travelers’ reports from that period :

    1. Marcopolo’s back home journey from China to Venice
    (early 1290’s).
    2. Odoricus Boemus de Foro / Odorico da Pordenone /
    Oldrich Cech z Furlanska ), The Travels of the Friar
    Odoric, early 1320’s.

    3. Abu Abdullah ibn Battuta, the Rihla (around 1344 –
    -1345)

    All of these travelers visited all of the well known ports / kingdoms in Southeast Asia at that time, such as Champa, Khmer, Malaiur (Melayu / Zabag / Jambi), Lamuri / Lambri, Samudra Pasei, Barus etc. In addition to these, Odoricus Boemus de Foro also visited several places in Borneo and Java, while Abu Abdullah ibn Battuta also visited the East Coast of Malay Peninsula.

    Very interestingly, all of these travelers didn’t mention at all about Melaka in their reports, which could be concluded that Melaka at that time or didn’t yet exist or just still an insignificant small fishermen’s village.

    On the contrary, a wellknown Chinese Admiral, Zheng He/ Ma Huan / Cheng Ho had visited Melaka several times in the period between 1405 – 1433 at which time Melaka had already been established as an important sea port / sultanate.

    Based on the above, it can be concluded that the Melaka’s Sultanate was founded sometime in the late 14 century, but not earlier.

  2. Correction of ‘line 7’ from the bottom :

    “……reports, which could be concluded that Melaka at that time didn’t yet exist or just… “

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