Aaron Kao - ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute


The Archaeology of the Empress Place Site, Singapore (2015)

The ISEAS Archaeology Unit (AU) excavated the Empress Place (EMP) site from 2 February 2015 to 12 April 2015. The excavation was conducted during construction works to repurpose the open lawn in front of the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall into a plaza, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Singapore’s independence (SG50). This report provides an overview of the methodology used during the excavation of the Empress Place site in Singapore, a summary of the archaeological findings and some reflections on the wider significance of the site.

The results of the excavation revealed a large number of artefacts, consisting of ceramics, stone objects, metal objects including a gold coin, and faunal and floral material. Ceramic artefacts, particularly stoneware and earthenware, formed the bulk of the assemblage.

It is clear that this site was an important part of the Temasek settlement and supported its role as a port. Rocks and timber features may have once been a roadway, a foundation or even a pier. The presence of boat planks suggests the dismantling of disused vessels in the area. Finds of 16th-17th-century porcelain confirms that the site was not entirely abandoned after its century-long peak.


Supported by National Heritage Board Heritage, Singapore. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Heritage Board, Singapore.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.56159/sitereport12