January 2019 marked the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the British to Singapore and, coincidentally, the 35th anniversary of Singapore’s first archaeological excavation. Since then, over half a million artefacts have been recovered. These cover two periods: the Temasek era (14th–16th century) and the Singapore era (1819-present). The artefacts from these excavations prove that Singapore had a sophisticated, multicultural society and complex economy before 1350. There are still important questions about Singapore’s history that further research, particularly laboratory analysis, may be able to answer. Some important unresolved questions concern provenance of artefacts, ancient ecology and environment of Singapore, reconstruction of artefacts from fragments, statistical analysis of intrasite variation, and comparisons with other sites in Southeast Asia.
About the speaker
John N. Miksic received his PhD from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He spent four years in Malaysia and nine years in Indonesia. In 1987 he moved to the National University of Singapore. He founded the Archaeology Unit at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. He has received a Special Recognition Award and the Pingat Bakti Setia long service award from the government of Singapore, and the title of Kanjeng Raden Harya Temenggung from the Susuhunan (hereditary ruler) of Surakarta, Indonesia. His book Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea won the inaugural Singapore History Prize for best book in 2018.
Image: Unidentified Statue from Empress Place. Image courtesy of John Miksic.
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