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Temasek History Research Centre

Adam Park


The Adam Park excavation. (Credit: Lim Chen Sian)

Site Information

Seventy years ago in February 1942, some of the most ferocious fighting in the Pacific War took place amidst the well-manicured lawns of a quiet suburb in Bukit Timah. At Adam Park, the Cambridgeshires – a novice British infantry battalion – was thrown into the thick of fighting in the epic Battle of Singapore. Miraculously, for four grueling days the Cambridgeshires held their ground and stood firm against the elite Japanese 41st Regiment’s onslaught, fighting until finally ordered by the High Command to lay down their arms.

Project Information

Between May 2010 and April 2011, Mr. Lim Chen Sian led an archaeological team to conduct an archaeological survey of the Adam Park battlefield. The Adam Park project presented an opportunity for archaeologists in Singapore to experiment with the methods and theories that had been successfully deployed elsewhere such as World War I battlefields in Europe. Battlefield archaeology is a unique branch of the archaeological discipline and involves the investigation of a very specific event involving conflict and fighting. The project also included architectural historians and conservators in the search for a chapel created by the POWs after the battle. The project was co-organized with the Singapore Heritage Society.

The archaeology team conducted topographic mapping at Adam Park.
The archaeology team conducted topographic mapping at Adam Park. (Credit: Lim Chen Sian)

Mr. Lim Chen Sian curated the “Four Days in February: Adam Park the Last Battle” exhibit (8th February 2012 to 24th June 2012) at the National Library of Singapore, based on findings from the project. The launch in February 2012 also marked the 70th anniversary of the fall of Singapore, an event so tumultuous that Winston Churchill spoke of it as the “worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history.”


70th Anniversary Of the Battle For Singapore

Other capacity building projects


Australian Historic Shipwreck Preservation Project (16 April – 11 May 2012)

The Archaeology Unit (AU) gave financial travel assistance to Southeast Asian archaeologists interested in pursuing a four-week underwater archaeology fieldwork program at the Clarence (1850) shipwreck in Port Phillip Bay, near the city of Melbourne, in Australia, with a maximum of SGD$2,000 per applicant. After a call for applications in February 2012, four applicants were selected. The applicants were asked to give a presentation on their fieldwork experience at the Institute of Southeast Asian studies, at a half-day symposium held on May 31st, 2012, entitled, “Symposium: Southeast Asian Underwater Archaeology.”

For more information regarding the AHSP project, please visit their official website: http://www.ahspp.org.au/

Myanmar-Singapore Archaeology Training and Research Project (27 December 2013 to 12 January 2014)

The AU conducted a Myanmar-Singapore Archaeology Training and Research Project in collaboration with the Myanmar Ministry of Culture and the University Of Yangon Department Of Archaeology between 27 December 2013 to 12 January 2014 in Yangon, Pyay, and Bagan. The objective of the project was to gather data on life in the ancient royal palace of Bagan. ISEAS funded 10 Myanmar nationals for the training project.

Image Gallery

About Us


The Archaeology Unit (AU) was formed in 2010 and inaugurated by H.E. President S R Nathan in August 2011. Prof. John Miksic was the first Head of the Archaeology Unit between July 2011 to June 2014.

The AU pursues projects designed to foster collaborative research in the archaeology of civilization in Southeast Asia, and its links with its neighbors in Asia. It is a part of the Temasek History Research Centre at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute. The AU conducts excavations in Singapore, concentrating on the material culture of the period from 1300 to 1600, but also maintains an interest in the lives of Singapore’s inhabitants during the colonial period of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The AU also collaborates with institutions in the Asia and Pacific regions to conduct research and training, and to disseminate published and unpublished reports on archaeological research.

Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/archaeologyunit



(related to AU Projects)

Archaeology Unit Gallery
The Archaeology Unit Gallery at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Library showcases the work of the Archaeology Unit (AU) in Singapore and Cambodia. Artefacts from Singapore include those from excavations at Fort Canning Hill, Empress Place, Adam Park, the National Gallery Singapore and the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd. From ceramics dating back to the Temasek period to a British WWII ammunition box and anti-malaria pill containers from the Imperial Japanese army, the Gallery seeks to underline the rich history and heritage of the city-state.

The AU also conducted the Archaeological Field School, which has been held in Cambodia and Singapore since 2013. This is part of AU’s efforts to explore cross-border and trade networks in the region. Excavation sites in Cambodia include the Torp Chey (c. 12-15th centuries) and Cheung Ek kilns (c. 5-13th centuries); the Phnom Kulen Royal Residence (c. 9th century) and Sema stone religious sites (c. 8-9th centuries); and Koh Ker (c. 10th century), one of the capital cities of the Khmer Empire.

The Gallery is open to the public during library hours.


Exhibitions (related to AU Projects)

  • “Archaeology in Singapore: 30 Years of Uncovering the Past” (28 Oct 2014 – 10 Aug 2015) (National Museum of Singapore)
    • Exhibition posters (1, 2) by Mr. Aaron Kao
  • Bukit Brown: Documenting New Horizons of Knowledge (19 Jul 2014 – 31 Jan 2015) (National Library of Singapore; Ang Mo Kio Public Library; Jurong Regional Library; Choa Chu Kang Public Library; Toa Payoh Public Library)

Public Lectures

  • “Digging the Urban Landscape” by Mr. Frank Meddens and Mr. Lim Chen Sian (26th December, 2014, National Museum of Singapore)


  • “Archiving Archaeological Materials” (25th November, 2014, National Museum of Singapore)


Public Lectures


  • Co-sponsored “Patterns of Early Asian Urbanism” Conference (11-13 November, 2013, National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden, The Netherlands)


  • Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre Archaeological Field School (2013 cohort)


  • Co-sponsored a four-week underwater archaeology fieldwork program at the Clarence (1850) shipwreck for Southeast Asian Archaeologists at Port Phillip Bay, Australia in 2012.


Public Lectures

  • Pots and How They Are Made in Southeast Asia” by Dr. Leedom Lefferts (Asian Civilisations Museum Fellow), 13th April, 2012
  • Same Same, but Different: The Rock Art of Southeast Asia” by Noel Hidalgo Tan (PhD. Candidate, Australia National University), 31st August, 2012
  • “Guerilla Archaeologists and the Singapore Story” (part 1, part 2 – courtesy of NUS Museum) by A/P John Miksic (12th April, 2012, NUS Museum)
  • “The Malay World and Singapore: Archaeological Perspectives” by A/P John Miksic (28th April, 2012, National Museum of Singapore)
  • “Perspectives on pre-colonial Singapore geography” by Dr. John Miksic (28th September, 2012, National Library)
  • “Singapore Before Raffles” by Dr. John Miksic (20th October, 2012, Archifest Pavilion)
  • Raffles, Archaeology, and the British in Indonesia” by A/P John Miksic (24th November, 2012, National Library)
  • “Ceramics in Myanmar: Unexplored Territory” by Dr. John Miksic and Dr. Goh Geok Yian (6th December, 2012, Southeast Asian Ceramic Society)


  • “Southeast Asian Underwater Archaeology” (31st May, 2012, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies)


  • Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre Field School of Archaeology (2012 cohort, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies)




  • Co-sponsored the “Ancient Silk Trade Routes: Cross Cultural Exchange and Legacy in Southeast Asia” Symposium at Singapore Management University (27-28 October, 2011)



Current / Ongoing Projects



Past Projects

Cambodia (in collaboration with APSARA Authority)