Situating Two Historical Shipwrecks in Singapore Waters: Findings and Implications


On 16 June 2021, the National Heritage Board announced the successful conclusion of the archaeological excavation of two shipwrecks at the eastern approaches to Singapore waters. This maritime excavation, the largest in Singapore’s waters, was conducted by the Archaeology Unit at the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute over a six-year period.

This webinar will provide the historical context of these two shipwrecks. Shipwreck 1 dates to the 14th century, while Shipwreck 2 has been identified as the Shah Muncher, a “Country ship” that wrecked in 1796. Michael Flecker, who directed the excavation of the two wrecks, will detail the excavation process and findings. Derek Heng will provide the historical context of 14th century trade in the South China Sea and map out the commercial networks that Temasek maintained through the course of the 14th century, and to position Shipwreck 1 in the context of the premodern economic history of Singapore. Turning to Shipwreck 2, Peter Borschberg will describe the emergence of the “Country” or “private” trade in the 18th century which complemented and competed with the official trade between England and China that was monopolized by the East India Company. The Temasek History Research Centre is pleased to bring you this webinar.

This webinar is supported by Temasek Foundation.

About the Speakers

Michael Flecker has overseen some of the most important shipwreck excavations in Asia over the past 30 years. They include the 9th century Belitung (Tang), 12th century Flying Fish, 13th century Java Sea, 15th century Bakau, c.1608 Binh Thuan, and c.1690 Vung Tau Wrecks. He earned his PhD at the National University of Singapore based on the excavation of the 10th century Intan Wreck, which resulted in a book published under the British Archaeological Report Series (2002). Dr Flecker is a maritime archaeologist specialising in ancient Asian ship construction and maritime trade, and a Visiting Fellow at the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute.

Derek Heng is Professor of History at Northern Arizona University. He specializes in the trans-regional history of Maritime Southeast Asia and the South China Sea during the first and early second millennia AD. Between 2013 and 2015, he was the Head of the former Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre (ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute), and inaugural Rector of Cendana College (Yale-NUS College, Singapore). He is the author of Sino-Malay Trade and Diplomacy in the Tenth Through the Fourteenth Century (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2009; ISEAS Press, 2012), and co-author of Seven Hundred Years: A History of Singapore (Singapore: National Library Board, 2019).

Peter Borschberg, FRHistS, FRGS, teaches history at the National University of Singapore. He is the author of several studies covering pre-1825 Singapore, Southeast Asia in the early modern period, as well as the development of law of nations in Europe and Southeast Asia before 1800.


This webinar will be delivered online entirely. You can join the webinar at the specified date and time using devices (computer, phone, or tablet) with internet connection.

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Apr 06 2022


10:30 am - 12:00 pm