‘Excavation jackpot’ at Empress Place archaeological dig

An estimated two tonnes worth of artifacts were recovered from the Empress Place archaeological dig. Some artifacts that were recovered dated back to before Singapore's colonial days. Photo: Tristan Loh/TODAY
Lead archaelogist Lim Chen Sian (left) and volunteers, Natalie Khoo (middle) and Young Wei Ping (right) reveal their finds from the Empress Place Archaelogical dig. Photo: Tristan Loh/TODAY
A glazed stoneware jarlet belonging that was made in the 14th century. Photo: Tristan Loh/TODAY
One of the most " erotic " pieces of artifact that the team unearthed was a tiny pumpkin shaped jar that showed an intimate couple copulating. The artifact most likely belonged to the Yuan Dynasty. Photo: Tristan Loh/TODAY
The Qing Bai Baby figurine was used as a decorative ornament. The ornament was made during the Southern Song period. Photo: Tristan Loh/TODAY
A Glazed Stoneware Storage Jar belonging to the 13th centruy. Photo: Tristan Loh/TODAY
About 2 tonnes worth of artefacts found
Published: 2:33 PM, April 16, 2015
Updated: 10:34 PM, April 16, 2015
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SINGAPORE — Singapore’s biggest archeology dig has unearthed an estimated two tonnes of artefacts, the country’s largest haul ever, the National Heritage Board (NHB) said today (April 16).

The two-month project at Empress Place, in front of the Victoria Concert Hall, wrapped up last Sunday.

It’s an “excavation jackpot”, said Mr Alvin Tan, assistant chief executive officer for Policy and Development at the NHB, with some pieces dating back to the 13th Century.

Some of the more significant artefacts uncovered, he said, will be put on display in museums once cataloguing and research work has been completed.

Lead archaeologist Lim Chen Sian added that the artefacts provide more insights into Singapore’s early beginnings, and may reveal further details about life in Singapore before the early colonial days.

“We are seeing lots of brand new things, which is helping us to rethink the chronology of ancient Singapore or Temasek,” said Mr Lim. Some of the artefacts, for example, date to around the mid-17th century and could plug some gaps in the understanding of our history prior to the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819, he added.

Artefacts unveiled at a press conference today included a piece of “imperial grade quality” porcelain measuring 34cm in diameter and Buddhist figurines. Such discoveries, Mr Lim said, could also possibly shed more light on religious and cultural mindsets back then.

The findings from this project, he added, suggest that areas in the vicinity, including the City Hall area, might be of historical value, making them possible excavation sites in the future.

The excavation was a collaboration between NHB and the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS).

The site excavation — divided into 13 zones — started in February this year with the approval of the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). The project was led by a five-man archaeology team, assisted by an average of ten volunteers daily.

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