Oldest time capsule found in Singapore

A restoration project at Singapore’s oldest Catholic church has uncovered a 173-year-old time capsule, containing artefacts from the 19th century.

Cathedral of the Good Shepherd in Singapore. Source: Straits Times 20160630
Cathedral of the Good Shepherd in Singapore. Source: Straits Times 20160630

173-year-old time capsule unearthed at Singapore’s oldest Catholic church
Straits Times, 30 June 2016

A 173-year-old time capsule and granite foundation stone of the country’s oldest Catholic church have been unearthed, in what experts describe as a “rare discovery”.

Contractors found the hitherto missing capsule and foundation stone earlier this year while restoring the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd along Queen Street.

The time capsule – possibly the oldest one found here – comprises publications such as a prayer booklet and newspapers from 1843, as well as 24 international 18th- and 19th-century coins and tokens. A foundation stone, or cornerstone, is the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation.

Full story here.

Singapore studying archaeology laws

A report last month said that the National Heritage Board of Singapore is conducting a study to address the issue of ownership of archaeological material, especially that found in private property which is a legal grey area in Singapore.

Excavations at Victoria Convert Hall in Singapore. Source: Straits Times 20160510
Excavations at Victoria Convert Hall in Singapore. Source: Straits Times 20160510

Study to plug gaps in laws on archaeology
Straits Times, 10 May 2016

A study on archaeology in Singapore is under way to address gaps in laws and regulations in the field.

One area that is being studied is the legal ownership status of archaeological materials unearthed on private land.

Currently, the authorities do not own such items, as only archaeological finds unearthed on state land belong to the state.

The study is conducted by the National Heritage Board (NHB), Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu told Parliament yesterday.

Full story here.

Workshop: The Heritage of Ancient and Urban Sites

For readers in Singapore, the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre is holding a two-day seminar on the intersection between cultural heritage and public participation.

unnamed

The workshop will see presentations from Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Singapore. Register by emailing nscevents@iseas.edu.sg

NSC-ISEAS Visiting Fellowship in Buddhist Studies

Visiting Fellowship position open in Singapore focusing on Buddhist archaeology in Southeast Asia. Deadline is 31 March 2016.

banner_nalanda_sriwijaya_centre

Visiting Fellowship at the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre of ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore

The Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre (NSC) of ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute (ISEAS) in Singapore pursues research on historical interactions among Asian societies and civilizations prior to the 17th century. NSC is now accepting applications for Visiting Fellowship positions from scholars at all ranks who wish to undertake research and writing under the following themes:

1. Buddhist History in Southeast Asia
2. Buddhist Links and Networks between Southeast Asia and other Asian countries
3. Buddhist Archaeology, Material Culture and Art in Southeast Asia

The Visiting Fellowship will be for one year, with a possibility of extension. Post-doctoral applicants are also welcome but should have graduated with a PhD no longer than three years prior to their successful appointment at NSC.

Commencement date will be from June 2016.
More details here.

Tomb hunters discover pieces of early Singapore’s past

A pair of Singaporean brothers whose hobby is hunting down grave stones have discovered stone markers belonging to a 19th century resident of Singapore.

Tomb hunting pair Charles and Raymond Goh. Source: Straits Times 20151111
Tomb hunting pair Charles and Raymond Goh. Source: Straits Times 20151111

Unearthing history of early S’pore occupants
Straits Times, 11 November 2015

Deep in the heart of MacRitchie Reservoir Park once stood a lakehouse built in the 1890s and owned by Briton George Mildmay Dare, a former secretary of the Singapore Cricket Club. (See correction note below)

Both Mr Dare and prominent local merchant Seah Eu Chin were among the first to own land at what was then known as the Impounding Reservoir, or Thomson Reservoir. The colonial government later acquired the privately owned land to widen the reservoir.

What remains today are two stone markers inscribed with the words “Dare” in English and “Seah Chin Hin” in Chinese for Mr Seah’s plantation, as well as the stone and brick foundations of Mr Dare’s former home. This account of the area’s early occupants and how land use there evolved was pieced together in July by tomb-hunting brothers Charles and Raymond Goh, after they began studying the markers and land ownership records.

Full story here.

Bronze goddess statue returned to India

The Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore has officially handed the 11th century bronze statue of Uma to India, after it was identified as stolen during the investigation of antiquities dealer Subash Kapoor.

Returned bronze statue of Uma. Source: Straits Times 20151106
Returned bronze statue of Uma. Source: Straits Times 20151106

Asian Civilisations Museum hands back sculpture identified as stolen to India
Straits Times, 06 November 2015

Asian Civilisations Museum returns 11th century sculpture to India
Today, 07 November 2015

The Asian Civilisations Museum has returned to the Indian authorities an 11th-century bronze sculpture in its possesion, which has been identified as stolen from India.

The museum had last month informed the Archaeological Survey of India and the High Commission of India to Singapore of its plan to return the religious icon depicting the Hindu goddess Uma Parameshwari.

The sculpture is among hundreds of stolen cultural artefacts amounting to over $148 million in an ongoing international art smuggling case. They are believed to have been looted and sold to museums by disgraced New York art dealer Subhash Kapoor, 65, who is awaiting trial in India on charges of theft and smuggling.

Full story here and here.

Public Lecture: Documenting Southeast Asia’s Pre-1500 Past by Kenneth Hall

A lecture by Prof. Kenneth Hall next week at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore.

unnamed

Documenting Southeast Asia’s Pre-1500 Past: Contested Agencies in the Extended Eastern Indian Ocean, c. 500–1500
by Kenneth Hall
Date: 18 November 2015
Time: 3.00 – 4.30pm
Venue: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies Singapore

This presentation will address Southeast Asia’s evolutionary international importance c. 500–1500, when the Southeast Asia region became a major source, consumer, and intermediary in the Indian Ocean maritime trade, diplomatic, and knowledge networks prior to significant European contact. Movements of variable goods, ideas, and people through the Southeast Asia extended Indian Ocean maritime passageway, made possible by seasonal monsoon winds, had regional and wider consequence that resulted in new Southeast Asia patterns of networked urbanization, diplomacy, trade, religion, and emigration that intersected and interacted to create a Southeast Asian world that had not previously existed. This study is focal on Southeast Asia’s initiatives in contrast to prior views that have seen early Southeast Asia societies subject to the external agencies of Chinese, South Asians, and Middle Easterners. In recent years new regional archaeological and shipwreck recoveries have allowed the re-reading of other primary sources, including contemporary epigraphic, chronicle, and fictional literary compositions as these collectively document Southeast Asia’s contributions to the pre-1500 “borderless” Indian Ocean world. In this critical era transitional Southeast Asian societies assumed entrepreneurial roles in the adoption and adaptations of Indian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern concepts and constructions to pre-existing social and economic patterns, from scripts and languages to literary genres and motifs, from religious texts and discourses to associated art and architectural forms, as these were associated with new state, commercial, religious, societal, and urban networking patterns.

Registration required, more details here.

NUS Asian Graduate Student Fellowships 2016

The Asia Research Institute (ARI) of the National University of Singapore (NUS) invites applications from citizens of Asian countries currently enrolled in a fulltime Master’s or PhD degrees at a university in an Asian country (except Singapore) for consideration for the award of Asian Graduate Student Fellowships. Offered to graduate students working in the Humanities and Social Sciences on Southeast Asian topics, the fellowship will allow the recipients to be based at NUS for an ‘in residence fellowship’ for a period of eight (8) weeks. The aim of the fellowship is to enable scholars to make full use of the wide range of resources held in the libraries of NUS and the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. The fellowship will commence on 23 May 2016, and scholars are expected to make a presentation on their work at the “Singapore Graduate Forum on Southeast Asian Studies” to be organised in the middle of July 2016.

Deadline: 15 November 2015
More details here.

Asian Civilisations Museum to return statue to India

After a formal request by the government of India, the Asian Civilisations Museum will return a bronze statue of Uma Parameshvari, which was identified as stolen in the recent high-profile antiquities looting case of Subhash Kapoor.

Statue of Uma Parameshvari to be returned by the Asian Civilisations Museum. Source: Straits Times 20151020
Statue of Uma Parameshvari to be returned by the Asian Civilisations Museum. Source: Straits Times 20151020

Asian Civilisations Museum to return ‘stolen’ 11th-century artefact to India
The Straits Times, 20 October 2015

Asian Civilisations Museum to return sculpture identified as stolen from India
Channel NewsAsia, 19 October 2015

The Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) said yesterday it would return a sculpture identified as stolen, upon the request of the Indian government.

‘Stolen’ artefact puts murky issues in spotlight
The Straits Times, 23 October 2015

The 11th-century bronze sculpture depicting Hindu goddess Uma Parameshvari is among hundreds of stolen cultural artefacts amounting to over $148 million in an ongoing international art smuggling case. They are believed to have been looted and sold to museums by disgraced New York art dealer Subhash Kapoor, 65, who is awaiting trial in India on charges of theft and smuggling.

In a press statement, the ACM said it had bought the sculpture from Kapoor’s now-defunct gallery Art of the Past for US$650,000 (S$900,000) in 2007.

Full story here and here.

Fellowships at the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre, Singapore

The Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies – Yusof Ishak Institute has openings for Postdocs and Visiting Fellowships, focusing on state formation in Southeast Asia, and links between Southeast Asia and India or China. Applications close 24 November 2015.

unnamed

More details here.