Chinese ceramics suggest presence of a ruler in ancient Singapore

Excavation at Empress Place. Source: The Straits Times 20150426

Preliminary finds of a specific type Chinese Ming ware used as gifts for overseas leaders suggest that ancient Singapore may have been the seat of a local ruler who was recognised by the Chinese.

Excavation at Empress Place. Source: The Straits Times 20150426
Excavation at Empress Place. Source: The Straits Times 20150426

Archaeological discoveries dig deeper into past
The Straits Times, 26 April 2015

Archaeological discoveries keep confirming that there was a thriving community here long before Stamford Raffles “created” Singapore in the 19th century. The latest evidence suggests that Temasek, or ancient Singapore, could have had an established government with a head ruler or chieftain way back in the late 14th century.

In unearthing this evidence during a dig at Empress Place, archaeologists have shed light on gaps in knowledge of the past. Singapore’s history was supposed to have begun with the providential role of colonials who made it a functional landing post. The evidence suggests otherwise. In digging it up, the archaeological team has provided additional proof of Singapore’s international provenance as well. It has discovered Chinese imperial-grade ceramics produced between 1375 and 1425. These had been bestowed by the Ming Dynasty emperor Hongwu on overseas leaders. Although Raffles undoubtedly gave Singapore a new lease of life as a commercial city, one that lasts to this day, he was not the originator of Singapore. To say that it had flourished before him does not detract from his importance but places it in historical perspective.

Full story here.

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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.

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