1819 and Before: Singapore’s Pasts
In commemoration of the bicentennial of Stamford Raffles’s establishment of an East India Company settlement on Singapore in 2019, the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre (NSC), at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, has organised a special lecture series entitled ‘1819 and Before: Singapore’s Pasts’. This seminar series aims to introduce the premodern and early history of Singapore, and to locate it in the broader region.
- Why Was There No Singapore Before Raffles? by Mr Kwa Chong Guan (18 July 2018)
- The Orang Laut and the Realm of the Straits (Negara Selat) by Prof Leonard Andaya (25 July 2018)
The Khmer Empire and Its Road Network by Dr. Ea Darith (12 Feb 2015)
Dr. Ea Darith gives an overview of the development of the Khmer Empire and The Living Angkor Road Project (LARP), a Cambodian–Thai joint research project. LARP has been conducting research along the said road since 2005. The team has already identified 32 ancient bridges, 385 water structures, 134 temples, 17 rest houses, 8 hospitals, a number of iron smelting sites, hundreds of stoneware ceramic kilns, and many habitation sites.
The Tombstones of Lamreh (Ancient Lamri) by Dr. E. Edwards McKinnon (4 March 2015)
Dr. E. Edwards Mckinnon looks into the prevalence and tradition of Islamic tombstones in Lamreh, Aceh, Indonesia. He suggests that two distinct types of tomb stones–the plain proto-batu Aceh and a distinct so-called plang pleng tradition–may help in understanding the arrival of Islam in the Aceh region.
NSC AU Lecture Series
Pots and how they are made in Southeast Asia by Dr. Leedom Lefferts (13th April, 2012)
Dr. Leedom Lefferts and Louise Allison Cort (Curator, Asian Ceramics, Freer and Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institution) conducted an intensive study of the indigenous production of earthenware and stoneware pottery by surveying over 200 locations in mainland Southeast Asia (including Southern Yunnan, China, but excluding Myanmar (Burma). They preliminarily charted six types of earthenware and two types of stoneware production across the region and have presented and published over a dozen papers on the subject (some of which are available in digitized format here).
This presentation summarizes their research findings and emphasizes three issues: the nature of the research as “ethno-archaeological method”; “embodied” behavior as indicative of cultural continuity and change, vis-à-vis pot form and decoration (and the difficulties associated with making archaeological discoveries in this domain); and the impact of these findings on the understandings of accepted Southeast Asian linguistic, political, and socio-organizational mapped boundaries. It is through their research findings that they propose a history of technological production behaviors that will begin to provide a nuanced understanding of contact and migration across the diverse landscape that is mainland Southeast Asia.
Same Same, but Different: The Rock Art of Southeast Asia by Noel Hidalgo Tan (31st August, 2012)
Rock art – paintings or carvings on rock, and other similar markings in the landscape – is not immediately associated with Southeast Asia. Because of its perceived rarity and obscurity, it remains one of the least understood archaeological phenomena in the region. Is there much rock art, if at all, in Southeast Asia? Where are they located? What can we learn from them?
Ancient Fansur, Aceh’s ‘Atlantis’: The Case for Lhok Pancu / Indrapurwa by Dr. E. Edwards McKinnon (3rd May, 2013)
Following recent seismological and archaeological research, there is increasing evidence to suggest that the long-lost site of ancient Fansur, a toponym often associated with the Barus region, may be found in the geographically strategically located bay of Pancu, a short distance west of the modern city of Banda Aceh (which is located on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia).
NSC Archaeological Field School Lectures
Ceramics, Technology, Trade, and Culture in Southeast Asia by Dr. John Miksic (30th May, 2013)
Dr. John Miksic gives a general overview to students of how the study of ceramics in Southeast Asia can give insight into production techniques, technological advancements, trade, and culture. This lecture was given in preparation for the students’ involvement with the Cheung Ek Excavation in June 2013, which was led by Mr. Phon Kaseka of the Royal Academy of Cambodia.
Guerilla Archaeologists and the Singapore Story (part 1, part 2 - courtesy of the NUS Museum) by Dr. John Miksic (12 April, 2012)
Most people think Singapore and archaeology are boring subjects, but the combination of the two can be exciting. Since Singapore has no laws covering archaeology, it is possible and sometimes necessary to go about the exploration for new sites in unorthodox ways. The term “underground” can mean something different in Singapore than it does in normal archaeological contexts! In this talk Assoc. Prof. John Miksic will provide an account of the history of archaeology in Singapore since 1984, and its connection with museums.
Raffles, Archaeology, and the British in Indonesia by Dr. John Miksic (24th November, 2012)
During his tenure as lieutenant governor of Java and as governor of Bencoolen, Raffles contributed much to the study of ancient Southeast Asia. This talk focuses on Raffles’ career and his role in fostering the study of the past before archaeology existed, as well as on what we have learned about the British in Sumatra from excavations at York Fort in the 1980s.
What Did Raffles See in Singapore? by Mr. Lim Chen Sian (2nd February, 2013)
Apart from an idyllic fishing village, what greeted Raffles, Farquhar and the early European pioneers when they landed in Singapore? Examining the few extant historical sources and clues from archaeological remains, this talk investigates what Singapore was like before and after Raffles’ arrival.
A Brief History of Singapore Archaeology, 1984-2013 by Dr. John Miksic (5th November, 2013)
This presentation was given during the NUS Press’s launch event for Dr. John Miksic’s book “Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea, 1300-1800? at the National Museum of Singapore.
Potsherds, Texts, and Singapore’s Role in Southeast Asian Maritime Culture by Dr. John Miksic (19th December, 2013)
Archaeological research since 1984 has shown that the (Sejarah Melayu (SM))’s depiction of precolonial Singapore was not completely false. Singapore was not the first great Malay port, but for a period of 300 years, from 1300 to 1600, it was a prosperous settlement with local industries. Archaeology shows that Singapore had three roles in the 14th through 16th centuries: a regional centre of economic activity; a link between the Indian Ocean, the South China Sea, and the Java Sea; and a part of a larger empire. Temasek/Singapura successfully balanced these roles until 1600, when the island was almost completely abandoned. In “Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea,” Dr John Miksic will tell this story, and also show how the revival of the ancient port in the 19th century was based on belief in the truthfulness of the SM.