SINGAPORE: History fans can soon visit excavation pits at the Singapore Art Museum’s (SAM) front lawn as the museum undergoes an archaeological investigation. The investigation, which is free for public viewing, is also part of the Singapore Heritage Festival, which begins on Friday (Apr 6). The dig at the former St Joseph’s Institution (SJI) building – a gazetted National Monument – on Bras Basah Road will seek to determine the archaeological significance of SAM as a historical site, the museum said in a media release. “The investigation is especially important, as the site is located right outside the walls of ancient Temasek,” said SAM. It may also reveal more about the histories and usage of the site, which prior to the construction of the building in 1855, was where the earliest Roman Catholic chapel in Singapore was located, it added. Conducted by the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre Archaeology Unit and ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, an exhibition will also be held to detail the process of conducting archaeology. The archaeological digs event during the festival will be held on Apr 6-8, Apr 11-15 and Apr 18-22. SAM added that the archaeological investigation will also ascertain if any further steps are necessary before its S$90 million revamp. SCDA Architects was appointed to manage the project after an open tender for the redevelopment of SAM buildings was called last September. This is the first time the contemporary art museum – which has a strong focus on works from Asia – will be undergoing a major revamp since its opening in 1996. The annual Singapore Heritage Festival will also include theatrical tours that explore the SAM building, meet-and-greet sessions with archaeologists and talks on Singapore’s history. Recent archaeological excavation sites in Singapore include the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, which yielded artefacts weighing about 2,500kg. At Pulau Ubin, attempts are also underway to discover more historical artefacts, with the first in-depth archaeological surveys on the island.
A couple of weeks ago I gave a presentation about the rock art of Southeast Asia at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, where I am based for most of this year. My colleagues at the the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre’s Archaeology Unit made a recording of the lecture and have uploaded it on Youtube:
Two websites to feature this afternoon that may be of interest. The first is the excavation blog of the ongoing work at Tanah Datar, in the Minangkabau Highlands of West Sumatra. The excavation is jointly run by Universitas Indonesia and the Frei Universität Berlin. Work started this month and the blog will be updated until 8 April.
For those who like surfing on Youtube, the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre’s Archaeology Unit has compiled several playlists of videos related to archaeology in Southeast Asia, including the archaeology of Singapore, lecture series, and underwater archaeology. They’re always on the lookout for new videos, so if you have a suggestion, do let them know.
From the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre, an opportunity for Southeast Asian Archaeologists to train in an underwater archaeology fieldwork project in Australia:
The Australian Historic Shipwreck Protection Project
Location: Port Philip Bay, Victoria, Australia
Dates: 16 April – 11 May 2012
Deadline for submission: 24 February 2012
Registration details here. Read More
The Singapore part of the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre Field School opened today at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre Field School 2012
The opening ceremony this morning saw an opening address by the director of ISEAS, Ambassador K. Kesavapany, the guest-of-honour Prof. Prasenjit Duara of the Asia Research Institute and a lecture on the archaeology of Singapore by Porf. John Miksic.
The participants are a varied bunch, representing the a spectrum from the East Asia Summit countries. Over the next two weeks, they will be attending lectures on various topics, getting some lab experience with handling ceramics and embarking on some field trips. I’ll be tagging along on some of these field trips to some of the museums – especially the ones I haven’t had a chance to visit yet. Stay tuned!
The Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre’s Field School is underway in Cambodia right now, and next week the participants will be moving to Singapore for the second half of the programme. The opening ceremony will be held next Wednesday. Registrations to attend the ceremony are open til tomorrow.
Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre Field School Opening Event
Venue: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, Seminar Room 2
Date: 25 January 2012
Time: 10am – 1.30pm