Rewriting Singapore’s history

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Empress Place excavation. Source: AsiaOne 20150510

The excavations at Empress Place have ended, and the artefacts are now at ISEAS being sorted and tagged. These follow-up stories show the kinds of work that needs to be done, as well as some of the more interesting finds from the site.

Empress Place excavation. Source: AsiaOne 20150510

Empress Place excavation. Source: AsiaOne 20150510

Rewriting History Out of Dirt?
Today, 08 May 2015
(video, above)

Racing against time to salvage old Singapore
AsiaOne, 10 May 2015

When archaeology volunteer Margaret Wong pulled large ceramic pieces from the soil at an Empress Place excavation site near the Singapore River, she knew by their weight and smooth texture that they were centuries-old jade green fragments of high quality.

But the enormity of her find sunk in only after Chinese porcelain expert Tai Yew Seng, who had been digging nearby, recognised the fragments as imperial-grade ceramics produced between 1368 and 1398.

The pieces, which formed a 34cm diameter platter, turned out to be one of the most significant artefacts unearthed from the two-month dig that wrapped up last month.

Full story here.

Chinese ceramics suggest presence of a ruler in ancient Singapore

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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.

Empress Place excavation wraps up

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Finds from the Empress Place excavation in Singapore. Source: Today 20150416

The excavations at Singapore’s Empress Place wraps up over last weekend, and the excavation team gave a press conference to show some of the major finds.

Finds from the Empress Place excavation in Singapore. Source: Today 20150416

Finds from the Empress Place excavation in Singapore. Source: Today 20150416

‘Excavation jackpot’ at Empress Place archaeological dig
Today, 16 April 2015

Empress Place dig turns up proof suggesting ancient Temasek had an established chief
Straits Times, 16 April 2015
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Singapore’s biggest archeology dig has unearthed an estimated two tonnes of artefacts, the country’s largest haul ever, the National Heritage Board (NHB) said today (April 16).

The two-month project at Empress Place, in front of the Victoria Concert Hall, wrapped up last Sunday.

It’s an “excavation jackpot”, said Mr Alvin Tan, assistant chief executive officer for Policy and Development at the NHB, with some pieces dating back to the 13th Century.

Some of the more significant artefacts uncovered, he said, will be put on display in museums once cataloguing and research work has been completed.

Full story here.

Largest archaeological excavation underway in Singapore

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Excavations at Empress Place, Singapore. Source: Today 20150213

It’s rare to see some archaeology from my home country – right now the largest excavation is underway at Empress Place, right in the middle of downtown Singapore, and over the areas that would have been to original settlement of Singapore. It’s a rescue excavation ahead of some construction in the area and the yield have been quite promising – hopefully they will be displayed to be public at some stage.

Excavations at Empress Place, Singapore. Source: Today 20150213

Excavations at Empress Place, Singapore. Source: Today 20150213

Major archaeological dig underway at Empress Place
The Straits Times, 13 February 2015

Unearthing early treasures
Today, 13 February 2015

A major archaeological dig is underway at Empress Place, with 2m-deep pits dug across a 1,000 sq m area about the size of 10 four-room flats.

So far, ceramics such as a porcelain headless Buddha statue, a clay figurine of what looks like a bird, as well as beads from India have been found. Most of these date back to the 14th century.

They form part of a 400kg haul unearthed by a team from the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies since work started on Feb 2.

– See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/singapore/more-singapore-stories/story/major-archaeological-dig-underway-empress-place-20150213#sthash.7YOO6YTa.dpuf

Both news stories have videos attached to them as well, so check it out here and here.