Fort Canning Archaeological Site
c. 14th century AD
If youâ€™re travelling between anywhere in Asia, chances are youâ€™ll be spending some time transiting in Singapore. And for a country that only has an area of 700 sq. km, space for archaeology is very limited. Which is why the Fort Canning archaeological site is quite special as a window into the island-stateâ€™s past.
Don’t be fooled by the colonial period name: Fort Canning Hill was formerly known as Bukit Larangan, Malay for the Forbidden Hill and when the British first landed in Singapore, the locals knew of the hill as a spiritual place where ancient royalty was buried. Early legends of Singapore mentioned the existence of a place called Temasek, presumably a settlement, but it was not until the parts of the hill were excavated in 1984 that the first confirmations of such a settlement existed.
Ceramics, such locally-made earthenware as well as Song Dynasty ceramics and porcelain and celadon provided evidence for the existence of a settlement in the 14th century, while the presence of glass beads and glass slag inferred the presence of a glass recycling facility. Today, one of the open archaeological pits has been converted into a exhibition area where visitors can see the archaeology of Fort Canning as well as the stratigraphic layers that form the site.
Find out more about the archaeology of Singapore in:
– Early Kingdoms of the Indonesian Archipelago and the Malay Peninsula by P. M. Munoz
– Early Singapore 1300s – 1819: Evidence in Maps, Text and Artefacts by J. N. Miksic and C. Low (Eds)
– Cultural Sites of Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia by J. Dumarcay and M. Smithies
– Archaeology (A Guide to the collection / National Museum, Singapore) by the National Museum Singapore
– Treasures from the National Museum, Singapore by the National Museum, Singapore