The lawn at Empress Place underwent major redevelopment in celebration of Singapore’s Golden Jubilee in 2015. This led to the largest archaeological excavation ever conducted in Singapore from January to April 2015 – covering almost 1000 square metre and yielding about three metric tonnes of artefacts.
The project was led by ISEAS’s Archaeology Unit, assisted by an average of ten volunteers daily. With support from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and the National Heritage Board (NHB), the archaeology team and volunteers worked 12-14 hour days over a duration of 100 days to recover artefacts from the pre-modern era settlement of Temasek (1300-1600s CE).
Data from this excavation revealed that the Empress Place area was a hub of commercial activity which saw several periods of occupation – golden age of Temasek between 1300-1400 CE, a hiatus in the 15th century, and a revival of the settlement from 1500s-1600s.
The Empress Place excavation site adjacent to Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall (left) and the Asian Civilisations Museum (below). The blue tents and colourful umbrellas marked the areas where the AU team was conducting its excavation, while construction activity hummed along in the rest of the rectangular-shaped site, measuring about 70m by 13m. (Credit: Ung Ruey Loon)