Research

Archaeology Laboratory @ 6 Kent Ridge Road

The Archaeology Laboratory is located at the top of Kent Ridge on the NUS campus. It is housed in a building erected in the early 1950s as part of a group of British military accommodations overlooking the western harbour and Straits of Singapore. The laboratory houses approximately 500,000 artefacts found in Singapore, and a few thousand more from other sites in Southeast Asia.  John Miksic, an archaeologist and founding member of the Department of Southeast Asian Studies, students, and colleagues use the laboratory to study materials found in archaeological research in Singapore and Southeast Asia.

The first archaeological facility in Singapore was housed in the Hill Street Building, then the headquarters of the National Archives and Oral History Department, by Professors Miksic and Kwa Chong Guan in 1987. In 1991 the Parks and Recreation Department invited Prof Miksic to move his growing laboratory to the Fort Canning Centre, near the important archaeological site of the Keramat Iskandar Shah. The Parks and Recreation Department and its successor the National Parks Board Singapore generously provided free space for the laboratory for 18 years. Further excavations yielded a huge quantity of artefacts which eventually exceeded the storage capacity of the space at Fort Canning Centre. Thanks to the support of Dean Tan Tai Yong and his successor Dean Brenda Yeoh of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS), the laboratory moved to its current location at NUS in 2009. The Laboratory is supervised by Professor Miksic and the Department of Southeast Asian Studies, with support from FASS.

The laboratory‘s main objectives are to store artefacts from excavations in Singapore, to catalogue them, and to disseminate information about them through publications, exhibitions, and other media. The laboratory collaborates with museums and educational institutions in Singapore and other countries. The Archaeology Laboratory disseminates knowledge of and appreciation for archaeology and its relevance to Singapore among the wider community. Prof. Miksic gives public lectures and training programmes connected with artefacts in the laboratory for volunteers at museums under the National Heritage Board. Classes for small groups of tertiary students are sometimes held there. Artefacts from the laboratory are frequently exhibited in museums under the National Heritage Board and other educational institutions. Prof Miksic and Associate Professor Goh Geok Yian of the History Programme at NTU have research grants from the National Heritage Board and the Ministry of Education for archaeological research and training which make use of the laboratory. Students from NTU as well as NUS make use of the laboratory for tutorials and individual research projects.

Funding is currently being sought to ensure that the archaeological laboratory will serve as a permanent repository for artefacts and a centre for the study of the material culture of pre-modern Singapore and Southeast Asia.

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