Happening today (22 January 2022) – Michael Flecker’s talk about the two newly-discovered shipwrecks in Singapore waters. Registration details in the link below.
Remarkably, the first ancient shipwreck ever found in Singapore waters is contemporary with 14th-century Temasek. An excavation carried out in stages over four years resulted in the recovery of approximately 4.4 tonnes of ceramics, mostly shards, and a handful of non-ceramic artefacts. While none of the ship’s structure has survived, circumstantial evidence, including an exclusive Chinese cargo and an absence of non-Chinese artefacts, suggests that the ship was a Chinese junk. She contained more Yuan dynasty blue-and-white porcelain than any other documented shipwreck in the world. From an analysis of this rare and important cargo component, the wreck probably dates between 1340 and 1371. Given the location of the site, the many parallel finds from Singapore terrestrial sites, and – importantly – a common dearth of large blue-and-white plates, it seems that the ancient port of Temasek (Singapore), was the most likely destination.
The second shipwreck has been identified as the Shah Muncher, an Indian-built, European-designed Country Ship operating under license to the British East India Company. Every year from 1790 she voyaged from Bombay to Canton with a primary cargo of cotton, and returned with sugar, zinc, and porcelain. But on 8 January 1796, carrying the heaviest cargo she had ever loaded, the Shah Muncher was forced upon rocks by the current. Approximately 5 tonnes of Chinese ceramics were recovered, with many pieces intact. There was also a wide range of other artefacts: zinc ingots, bottles, glass beads, and agate medallions. Parts of the ship’s hull were found, along with rigging, rudder fittings, copper sheathing, cannons, and anchors. The Shah Muncher sank 23 years before Raffles established Singapore as a British port. Nonetheless, her cargo provides insights into the types of goods that were purchased by Singapore’s fledgling community, along with those that would have been transhipped at the new port.
Source: ACMtalks: Michael Flecker