Singapore before colonisation: from Temasek to Singapura, destruction, and flight to Melaka and Johor

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via South China Morning Post, 27 November 2018: A new book Studying Singapore before 1800 explores a less-known area of Singapore’s past.

The history of Singapore before the foundation of the modern version of the city by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819 has been largely ignored.

This volume of 18 articles (with a wide range of original publication dates) looks to rectify this and show that Singapore, because of its strategic location on the shipping route between East and West, was heavily involved in pre-British waves of global trade and colonisation.

Co-editor Kwan Chong Guan explains why this matters: “The challenge for Singapore in the 20th century is to recognise the nature of the post-colonial or postmodern cycle of globalisation it is caught in, and to decide best how to respond to it. Looking at the impact of earlier cycles of globalisation on the maritime history of the Melaka Straits may provide Singaporeans with a better understanding of their city state’s vulnerabilities.”

Source: Singapore before colonisation: from Temasek to Singapura, destruction, and flight to Melaka and Johor | South China Morning Post

Asian Civilisations Museum to open 3 new galleries for Christian Art, Islamic Art, and Ancestors and Rituals

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via Straits Times, 27 November 2018: New galleries in the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore.

The Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) will open three new permanent galleries for Christian Art, Islamic Art, and Ancestors and Rituals on Saturday (Dec 1).

These galleries, found on the second level of the museum, will show how systems of faith and belief spread across Asia, and how traditions of religious art adapted as a result.

Among the highlights are a 17th century sculpture of the Virgin Mary with possible Chinese, Filipino and Mexican influences; an ornate 19th century Quran made in Terengganu; and a hornbill carving by Sarawak’s Iban community.

Source: Asian Civilisations Museum to open 3 new galleries for Christian Art, Islamic Art, and Ancestors and Rituals, Arts News & Top Stories – The Straits Times

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau traces family links to Singapore at Fort Canning Park

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Source: Straits Times 20181115

via Straits Times, 15 November 2018: Fort Canning Park in Singapore is an archaeologically significant area, with both pre-colonial and colonial remains. One of the gravestones at Fort Canning belongs to an ancestor of the Canadian PM.

Source: Straits Times 20181115

Source: Straits Times 20181115

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau traces family links to Singapore at Fort Canning Park

Source: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau traces family links to Singapore at Fort Canning Park, Singapore News & Top Stories – The Straits Times

Digging Fort Canning Park: Refreshed archaeological site, restored gardens to open by June 2019

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Invited archaeologist Dr John N. Miksic (centre) and volunteers working at the Archaeological dig exhibition at Fort Canning Park on Oct 28, 2018. Photo: Ooi Boon Keong/TODAY

via Today, 28 October 2018: The Fort Canning site is being re-excavated and refurbished as part of the Singapore Bicentenary celebrations next year. New finds include Sawankhalok ware from Thailand.

Invited archaeologist Dr John N. Miksic (centre) and volunteers working at the Archaeological dig exhibition at Fort Canning Park on Oct 28, 2018. Photo: Ooi Boon Keong/TODAY

Invited archaeologist Dr John N. Miksic (centre) and volunteers working at the Archaeological dig exhibition at Fort Canning Park on Oct 28, 2018. Photo: Ooi Boon Keong/TODAY

Several new attractions showcasing the rich history of Fort Canning Park will be ready by June next year, breathing fresh life into the 18-hectare site.

Three historical gardens that will be restored will be ready by then, in conjunction with the bicentennial exhibition that will be held at the Fort Canning Centre, said the National Parks Board (NParks) on Sunday (Oct 28).

A 17-year-old exhibition space that features an archaeological dig site will be closed from next month to June next year for improvement works. When it reopens, the space will be renamed Artisan’s Garden as it is believed to be the site of a 14th-century palace workshop.

Source: TODAYonline | Digging Fort Canning Park: Refreshed archaeological site, restored gardens to open by June 2019

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Singapore’s rich pre-colonial history to be showcased

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National Museum of Singapore by saiko3p/Shutterstock

via The Straits Times, 22 October 2018: A new exhibition focusing on Singapore’s pre-colonial history from the 17th century (try to wrap your head around that!) will open next year at the National Museum of Singapore. Unfortunately, the linked article is behind a paywall.

National Museum of Singapore by saiko3p/Shutterstock

National Museum of Singapore by saiko3p/Shutterstock

“The National Museum of Singapore will roll out a key exhibition showcasing the country’s rich historical heritage to commemorate the bicentennial next year.

The exhibition – tentatively titled “An Old New World: From the East Indies to the Founding of Singapore, 1600-1819″ – will be staged at the museum’s Stamford Road location in the second half of next year.

Among other things, it aims to shed light on how Singapore was already well connected to the region and world prior to the arrival of the British East India Company.

The National Museum said the exhibition seeks to expand on Singapore’s history by looking at a longer narrative starting from the 1600s, as well as a broader geographical region – the East Indies, of which Singapore was a part.

The East Indies comprises the Malay Peninsula and Indonesian Archipelago, the centre of the spice trade that was highly sought after in Europe. This resulted in the establishment of the East India Company in 1600 and the Dutch Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie in 1602.”

Source: Singapore’s rich pre-colonial history to be showcased, Singapore News & Top Stories – The Straits Times

Call for Applications – Asian Civilisations Museum Research Fellowship 2019

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Postdoc opportunity from the Asian Civilisations Museum! Deadline is 15 December 2018.

Organizing institution(s): Asian Civilisations Museum Singapore
Deadline: 15 December 2018
Location: Singapore
Description: The Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) in Singapore invites post-doctoral scholars to apply for fellowships in Material studies, Material culture studies, Museological studies, Trade, Singapore community heritage, Peranakan / Mixed heritage research, Cities/Urban studies, Intangible cultural heritage.

For more details and to download the application form, please visit https://www.acm.org.sg/research. To know more about the ACM’s collections, please go to http://roots.sg/learn/collections

For enquiries not answered in the information sheet, please contact: Secretariat, ACM Research Fellowship, nhb_acm_rpu@nhb.gov.sg

Singapore once named as ‘tricky place to stay’

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via Straits Times, 10 October 2018: More behind Singapore’s name, according to old records!

Singapore River. Source: Straits Times

Singapore River. Source: Straits Times

Singapura, as explained by some Portuguese authors in the 16th century, is translated from its original language in Malay into Portuguese as falsa demora, which means the wrong or tricky place to stay.

Meanwhile, the name Barxingapara, which appeared in maps in the early 1500s, can be broken down as follows: “bar” means a kingdom of a coastal region, “xin” means “China” and “gopara” or “gapura” is the word for “gateway”.

Dr Borschberg’s talk is part of the ongoing Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre’s lecture series called 1819 and Before: Singapore’s Pasts, organised in the lead-up to the bicentennial next year. The first lecture in the series took place in July.

Source: Singapore once named as ‘tricky place to stay’, Singapore News & Top Stories – The Straits Times

Categories: Singapore

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[Lecture] Portuguese and Dutch Records for Singapore before 1819

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Readers in Singapore may be interested in this talk tomorrow at ISEAS.

Portuguese and Dutch Records for Singapore before 1819
Date : Tuesday, 9 October 2018
Time : 10:00 am – 11:30 am
Venue : ISEAS Seminar Room 2
About The Lecture
In the mid-1950s, a young lecturer in the history department at the University of Singapore named Ian MacGregor embarked on an ambitious project to research the history of pre-1800 Singapore and Malaya by using Portuguese documents. His findings were published in three articles in the Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society between 1955 and 1957. The untimely death of this researcher ended abruptly what appeared to be a promising trajectory in writing the history of Singapore and the region. For the past two decades, research on the Portuguese and other early European sources touching on the region in the 16th and 17th centuries has intensified and, thanks to modern IT facilities that provide easier access to archival materials worldwide, the question has resurfaced as to what the value of the Portuguese sources might be for identifying important events in Singapore’s pre-modern history. This has become especially important against the backdrop of the ongoing preparations for the Singapore Bicentennial in 2019. This seminar should be seen as a contribution to the historiography of pre-1800 Singapore insofar as it critically engages with the different types of materials at hand, compares them with other period European sources, and reviews some of the different materials that have been published in recent years.

[Job] Visiting Fellow (Archaeologist) – Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre

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via the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre. Position open for an archaeologist with a PhD. Applications close on 15 October 2018.

The Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre (NSC) invites Archaeologists to apply for the post of Visiting Fellow:

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Prepare and conduct the annual NSC Field School for undergraduate-level students in a Southeast Asian country.
  • In-charge of editing and soliciting papers for the Archaeological Report Series.
  • Conduct and publish original archaeological research on Southeast Asia while at NSC.
  • Assist NSC in the organisation and management of conferences, workshops and seminars.
  • Contribute to ISEAS collective research and public outreach efforts.

Requirements:

  • A PhD. in Archaeology
  • Expertise in Southeast Asian archaeology and/or premodern history.
  • Experience in conducting archaeological excavations or field work in Southeast Asia.
  • Good organisational and student-management skills.
  • High level of editorial and writing skills in English.
  • Ability to speak a Southeast Asian language preferred.
  • Positive work attitude, great communication skills, and ability to work under tight schedule.

A remuneration package commensurate with experience and ability will be provided. Contract for two years with option for renewal. Those interested are invited to submit a cover letter; updated CV; research proposal; two sample writings; and two reference letters to:

Senior Manager (HR),
ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute,
30 Heng Mui Keng Terrace,
Singapore 119614
Or email to positions@iseas.edu.sg

Veteran archaeologist to conduct six-week dig at Fort Canning

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2012 photo of Prof. John Miksic at Fort Canning

via Straits Times, 01 September 2018: Prof. John Miksic is conducting a new excavation of Fort Canning Hill, a significant archaeological site in Singapore at the invitation of the National Parks Board in the lead-up to Singapore’s bicentennial in 2019. Note: Article is behind a paywall, but I found the full text on the NUS Southeast Asian Studies blog.

2012 photo of Prof. John Miksic at Fort Canning

2012 photo of Prof. John Miksic at Fort Canning

The lives of Singapore’s ancient rulers and people who worked in the royal Malay palace at Fort Canning Hill are being probed further by a pair of archaeologists.

Speaking to The Straits Times, veteran archaeologist John Miksic, 71, said he will be co-leading an excavation at the historic Fort Canning Park for six weeks from this weekend with Associate Professor Goh Geok Yian, 46. It will be Professor Miksic’s 13th dig at the park.

The National Parks Board invited Prof Miksic to conduct the dig as part of its overall restoration works at Fort Canning Park. This comes in the lead-up to Singapore’s bicentennial next year. The park will be the venue of the main bicentennial showcase.

The archaeologists will be assisted by a team of students and volunteers as they work in a large 10m by 5m pit near the park’s Spice Garden.

The area, which is also near the Registry of Marriages and the Keramat Iskandar Shah, has been interpreted as a 14th-century palace workshop after an earlier discovery of a “large charcoal feature” where iron tools were likely used.

Archaeologists had also found thousands of glass beads as well as small fragments of gold and clay crucibles at the site.

On the upcoming excavation, Prof Miksic said: “It is a significant site because it has the densest concentration of 14th-century artefacts in undisturbed soil anywhere on Fort Canning. We are likely to find a mixture of Chinese, Malay, South-east Asian, and Indian artefacts. The only question is whether we will find any new kinds of objects which we have not found before.”

The hill was once home to what was likely a large palatial complex dating back to the 14th century. A keramat or shrine was also located there – it was named after the last king of Singapura, Sri Sultan Iskandar Shah. He spent three years as king of Singapura before the island was invaded by the Majapahit empire at the turn of the 15th century. When Singapura fell, Iskandar Shah fled to Johor and eventually founded Melaka.

According to Prof Miksic’s book, Singapore And The Silk Road Of The Sea, 1300-1800, an initial dig at Fort Canning in 1984 ascertained that the hill had been occupied in the 14th century. Pottery made in China during its Yuan dynasty was discovered there.

Next year, a dedicated heritage museum is set to open at the three-storey conserved Fort Canning Centre, and will include artefacts dug up from Prof Miksic’s earlier excavations there.

Archaeologist Lim Chen Sian said: “It’s a very large hill so the excavations conducted there so far are only the tip of the iceberg. There is potential to find more materials from the Temasek period. It would be nice to look back in time in the lead-up to the bicentennial.”

Source: Veteran archaeologist to conduct six-week dig at Fort Canning, Singapore News & Top Stories – The Straits Times