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Fort Canning Archaeological Site
Singapore (Singapore)
c. 14th century AD

If you’re travelling between anywhere in Asia, chances are you’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-state’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

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One Reply to “5 Southeast Asian archaeology sites to visit (that are not Angkor)”

  1. I am not sure what archeologists think of the restoration done in Trowulan archeological site, but its good to see that they really try to preserve and protect the sites, even with limited resources. It is a pity though as its not part of the tourist candi trail.

    In contrast, from what i saw 3 years ago…MySon as well as the Cham museum get a lot of tourists but seems to be struggling with restoration and maintenance. Really surprising to see. I did notice that there were 3 related museums there (the on-site one, the nearby one that probably never sees visitors, the Champa museum in Danang with its so few exhibits), so is it a case of spreading resources thin?

    Anyway, it is quite understandable for Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia to have to spread its resources among many many sites. But for Vietnam (and also Malaysia), I really wonder why, especially noting their huge tourism budgets and how the few sites they have can possibly bring in more tourists. Its probably not about availability of funds.

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