Exhibition site of Fort Canning archaeological dig to be refreshed for first time in 17 years

Members of an archaeological team working at a dig site in Fort Canning Park on Oct 28, 2018.
Members of an archaeological team working at a dig site in Fort Canning Park on Oct 28, 2018. ST PHOTO: MATTHIAS CHONG

SINGAPORE - The exhibition site of an archaeological dig at Fort Canning Park will be updated for the first time in 17 years, the National Parks Board (NParks) announced on Sunday (Oct 28).

As recently as the past few months, artefacts such as thousands of glass beads from China's Yuan Dynasty, as well as earthenware and stoneware, have been found at the historically significant site, which is believed to have housed a 14th century palace workshop.

The enhancements will include more hands-on interactive spaces, such as a sand pit for simulated archaeological activities, as well as an open space for workshops.

Information panels on the soil layers at the site and artefacts found there will also be updated.

These multimedia educational panels on the artefacts, including recent discoveries, will give a glimpse of what life on the hill was like.

The site, which will also include a new outdoor garden, will be closed from November and reopened in June 2019.

The improved features of the Archaeological Dig exhibition are part of enhancement plans announced by NParks in February. The park will be the venue of the main showcase for Singapore's bicentennial next year.

"We hope to cultivate interest in the heritage of this hill," said Mr Wong Tuan Wah, NParks' group director for Fort Canning Park and Istana.

An archaeological dig at the site near the park's Spice Garden ended on Sunday.

Organised by NParks, in partnership with veteran archaeologist Professor John Miksic from National University of Singapore, as well as Nanyang Technological University's Associate Professor Goh Geok Yian, the dig explored portions that had been left intact during earlier excavations. The team started their dig on Sept 2.

At around noon on Sunday, the archaeological team found a rare piece of Thai ceramic. It is only the second such piece found in the area.

Prof Miksic said it points to interactions between Temasek, as Singapore was once known, and Thailand in the 14th century.

Prof Goh added: "It's important for Singaporeans to think about being part of South-east Asia. Most students often think that Singapore doesn't have a long history, beyond 200 years ago."