Short Introduction
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The history of Singapore dates to the 11th century. The island rose in importance during the 14th century under the rule of Srivijayan prince Parameswara and became an important port until it was destroyed by Portuguese raiders in 1613.

The modern history of Singapore began in 1819 when Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles established a British port on the island. Under British colonial rule, it grew in importance as a centre for both the India-China trade and the main trading centre in Southeast Asia, rapidly becoming a major port city.

Wang DaYuan’s account

  • The 1365 Javanese epic poem Negarakretagama identified a settlement called Tamasek, Water Town, on Singapore island. Chinese trader, Wany Dayuan, who visited Singapore around 1330 and referred to the settlement as Danmaxi, reported that there were also some Chinese living on the island. The Sejarah Melayu or Malay Annals has the most colorful account of how Singapore got its present name. As the story goes, Sang Mila Utama (or Sri Tri Buana), ruler of Palembang, landed at Temasek one day while seeking shelter from a storm. Sighting an animal that his followers called a lion, he decided to establish a settlement and named it Singapura - Lion City. The island became commonly known as Singapura by the end of the 14th century.

  • During the 14th century, Singapore was caught in the struggle between Siam (now Thailand) and the Java-based Majapahit Empire for control over the Malay Peninsula. According to to Sejarah Melayu, Singapore was defeated in one Majapahit attack. Later a prince of Palembang, Iskandar Shah, also known as Parameswara, killed the local chieftain and installed himself as the island's new ruler. Shortly after, he was driven out, either by the Siamese or by the Javanese forces of the Majapahit and fled north to Malacca where he founded the Malacca Sultanate. Singapore remained an important part of the Malacca Sultanate; it was the fief of admirals, including Hang Tuah.

  • In the early 15th century, Singapore was a Thai vassal state, but the Malacca Sultanate which Iskandar had founded quickly extended its authority over the island. After the Portuguese seizure of Malacca in 1511, the Malay admiral fled to Singapura and established a new capital at Johor Lama, keeping a port officer in Singapura. The Portuguese destroyed Johor Lama in 1587 and the subsequent obscurity of Singapura probably dates from 1613 when the Portuguese reported burning down a Malay outpost at the mouth of the river.

  • In 1819, Singapore was established as a trading station by Sir Stamford Raffles under an agreement between the British East India Company and the Sultan of Johor and the Malay ruler of the island. In 1824, Singapore was ceded in perpetuity to the East India Company by the Sultan.

  • During World War II, Singapore was occupied by the Japanese from 1942 to 1945. Following the surrender of Japan, Singapore was re-occupied by the Allied Forces.

  • Singapore became the 117th member of the United Nations on 21 September 1965. On 22 December 1965, the Constitution Amendment Act was passed under which the Head of State became the President and the State of Singapore became the Republic of Singapore.

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Sejarah Melayu’s account

  • Precolonial Era

Located astride the sea routes between China and India, from ancient times the Malay Archipelago served as an entrep, supply point, and rendezvous for the sea traders of the kingdoms and empires of the Asian mainland and the Indian subcontinent. The trade winds of the South China Sea brought Chinese junks laden with silks, damasks, porcelain, pottery, and iron to seaports that flourished on the Malay Peninsula and the islands of Sumatra and Java. There they met with Indian and Arab ships, brought by the monsoons of the Indian Ocean, carrying cotton textiles, Venetian glass, incense, and metalware. Fleets of swift prahu (interisland craft) supplied fish, fruit, and rice from Java and pepper and spices from the Moluccas in the eastern part of the archipelago. All who came brought not only their trade goods but also their cultures, languages, religions, and technologies for exchange in the bazaars of this great crossroads.

In time, the ports of the peninsula and archipelago formed the nucleus of a succession of seabased kingdoms, empires, and sultanates. By the late seventh century, the great maritime Srivijaya Empire, with its capital at Palembang in eastern Sumatra, had extended its rule over much of the peninsula and archipelago. Historians believe that the island of Singapore was probably the site of a minor port of Srivijaya.

  • Temasek and Singapura

Although legendary accounts shroud Singapore's earliest history, chroniclers as far back as the second century alluded to towns or cities that may have been situated at that favored location. Some of the earliest records of this region are the reports of Chinese officials who served as envoys to the seaports and empires of the Nanyang (southern ocean), the Chinese term for Southeast Asia. The earliest first-hand account of Singapore appears in a geographical handbook written by the Chinese traveler Wang Dayuan in 1349. Wang noted that Singapore Island, which he called Tan-ma-hsi (Danmaxi), was a haven for several hundred boatloads of pirates who preyed on passing ships. He also described a settlement of Malay and Chinese living on a terraced hill known in Malay legend as Bukit Larangan (Forbidden Hill), the reported burial place of ancient kings. The fourteenth-century Javanese chronicle, the Nagarakertagama, also noted a settlement on Singapore Island, calling it Temasek.

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The Annals, as well as contemporaneous Portuguese accounts, note the arrival around 1388 of King Paramesvara from Palembang, who was fleeing Majapahit control. Although granted asylum by the ruler of Singapura, the king murdered his host and seized power. Within a few years, however, Majapahit or Thai forces again drove out Paramesvara, who fled northward to found eventually the great seaport and kingdom of Malacca. In 1414 Paramesvara converted to Islam and established the Malacca Sultanate, which in time controlled most of the Malay Peninsula, eastern Sumatra, and the islands between, including Singapura. Fighting ships for the sultanate were supplied by a senior Malaccan official based at Singapura. The city of Malacca served not only as the major seaport of the region in the fifteenth century, but also as the focal point for the dissemination of Islam throughout insular Southeast Asia.
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Here is a slide show summarising all of the information listed above. It also provid some evidence supporting both accounts such as archaelogical finds.

Archaeology in Singapore

Archaeology in Singapore is a niche discipline. Although there is a lack of government support for archeological work, many artifacts have been unearthed at sites around the island. These finds have helped to give a clearer picture of Singapore's history, both before and after Stamford Raffles' landing in 1819.

  • Sites

The first site excavation was carried out in 1984 by John N Miksic (then with Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia) at Fort Canning.[1][2] Since then, places where site surveys have been carried out include:

Former Drama Centre

  1. Singapore History Museum

  2. Punggol

  3. Saint John's Island

  4. Singapore Management University campus

  5. There have been site excavations in these areas:

  6. Fort Canning

  7. Fort Tanjong Katong

  8. Padang

  9. Istana Kampong Glam

  10. St. Andrew's Cathedral

  11. Colombo Court

  12. Duxton Hill

  13. Empress Place

  14. Old Parliament House

  15. Parliament House

Major finds

  • Although Fort Tanjong Katong, whose construction started only in 1879, was much newer than Fort Canning, a number of artifacts have also been unearthed there. 36 bags of marine ecofact and coral samples were collected from the site and have been sent to the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity at the National University of Singapore (NUS) for analysis. Significant parts of the fort, which was demolished after World War I, were also found in situ.

  • There were so many artifacts uncovered at the Padang that both the work period and the size of the test pit were lengthened. The artifacts include indigenous earthenware, Chinese trade ceramics, and coins from the Tang, Song and Jin Dynasties.

  • Excavations at St. Andrew's Cathedral have revealed artifacts dating from the 14th century to the 20th century, which suggest that the 14th-century settlement in Singapore extended well beyond the Singapore River.