Sunday, December 21, 2014

Singapura: 700 Years

The National Museum has recently taken some flak for typo errors seen on their exhibition boards. (1) The new exhibition - Singapura: 700 Years brings together archeological finds from as early as the 1920s till recent. 

A large number of historical findings in Singapore can be found in this definitive book - Early Singapore 1300s - 1819. Published in 2004, the book brings together papers written by Singapore history scholars. It goes out to prove that Singapore was not a sleepy village before pre-Raffles.

Through various excavations, gold ornaments, glass sheds and vessels, and Chinese bowls have been found. All these are shown in this book and the current exhibition is based largely on the findings.

As early as 1320, it was said that a prominent place in Singapore was mentioned in the Yuan Dynasty's record, the "Yuan-Shih". The unique stone feature that  was then known as "Long ya-men" Or Dragon's tooth gate.

In 1349, a Chinese businessman named Wang Da Yuan was said to have visited Singapore. So with all these factors coming into play, Singapore was not just an island.

There were also maps to show that Singapore was a known island before Sir Stamford Raffles. The map above was taken from a section of Captain J. Lindsey's 1798 "The South part of the Straits of Malacca". (2)

Interestingly, the map also shows other nearby island such as Salat Booro (Pulau Ubin?), Tooly (Pulau Blakang Mati), and Pedra Branca.


1. Zaccheus, M. December 1, 2014. Showcase of S'pore marred by typo, errors. The Straits Times.

2. Miksic, J. & Low, C. M. G. 2004. Early Singapore 1300s - 1819. Singapore History Museum: Singapore. P96.

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