Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Welcome to a brand new school year and your very first History blogging session!

Before we begin the session, please read and understand the following rules for using the computer labs and blogging:

On Use of Computer Labs
  • I will listen carefully to all instructions given by the teacher before I begin.
  • I will raise my hand to ask, if I have any questions related to the blogging session.
  • I will use indoor voices in the computer lab at all times.
  • I will not disturb others during the lesson.
  • I will only do what I am assigned to do on the computer.
  • I will not visit other websites without explicit permission from the teacher.
  • I will keep the computer labs clean and in proper order when I leave.

On Blogging
  • I must write only in Standard English.
  • I will be mindful of the content I put on the blog - I will not hurt others and be a disgrace to myself (i.e. use of offensive words, pictures, media, etc.).
  • The teacher has the right to request student(s) to amend/remove any undesirable or offensive content written without giving any reason.
  • Disciplinary action may be taken against non-compliance of these rules.
Please acknowledge by typing the following sentence in the comment box below and submit:

I have read and understood all the above rules and I am ready for my blogging session!
Name (Reg. No):

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Admiral Cheng Ho (Zheng He), the Chinese-Muslim explorer from the Ming Dynasty 

Historical texts indicate that Ming dynasty’s explorer, Admiral Cheng Ho (Zheng He) has made 5 voyages to Malacca out of his 7 voyages of exploration.

The 7 Voyages of Admiral Cheng Ho

Regions along the way
1st Voyage
Champa, Java, Palembang, Malacca, Aru, Samudera, Lambri, Ceylon, Kollam, Cochin, Calicut
2nd Voyage
Champa, Java, Siam, Cochin, Ceylon
3rd Voyage
Champa, Java, Malacca, Sumatra, Ceylon, Quilon, Cochin, Calicut, Siam, Lambri, Kayal, Coimbatore, Puttanpur
4th Voyage
Champa, Java, Palembang, Malacca, Sumatra, Ceylon, Cochin, Calicut, Kayal, Pahang, Kelantan, Aru, Lambri, Hormuz, Maldives, Mogadishu, Barawa, Malindi, Aden, Muscat, Dhofar
5th Voyage
Champa, Pahang, Java, Malacca, Samudera, Lambri, Ceylon, Sharwayn, Cochin, Calicut, Hormuz, Maldives, Mogadishu, Barawa, Malindi, Aden
6th Voyage
Hormuz, East Africa, countries of the Arabian Peninsula
7th Voyage
Champa, Java, Palembang, Malacca, Sumatra, Ceylon, Calicut, Hormuz. (17 states)

(Source: Zheng He - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia)

Among the many stories of his famous voyages (as recorded Ma Huan, a translator for the Admiral who accompanied him along the way) was a mission to bring one of the Emperor of China’s daughter, Princess Hang Li Po to marry the Sultan of Malacca. It was believed by some scholars that the wedding entourage of handmaidens and minister’s sons that followed during this act of diplomacy between Ming China and the Malaccan Sultanate, contributed to the Baba and Nonya culture. The Mainland Chinese who arrived in Southeast Asia, inter-married with the locals and culturally adapted their Southeast Asian lifestyles. The Peranankan culture remains evident till this very day in Malacca, Penang and Singapore.

An early photograph of Nonya women in Malacca


Look at the above photograph which was taken from a Peranakan wedding in the 20th Century. What distinctive cultural features indicate to you that adaptation has taken place?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


The Silk Road - Goods traded along the Silk Road [click on the picture to see the full-sized version] (above)
The Silk Road is an ancient network of trading routes linking the western world to China The name was derived from the lucrative Chinese silk trade that took place during that time. Traders from the west travelled 6,500 kilometres to China just to trade in silk. Silk fabrics could only be found in China at that time, as it was invented by the Chinese. Its production was a closely guarded secret for thousands of years, and it was an important source of income for the Chinese people. Apart from the trading of silk, there were other luxury goods such as satin, perfumes, spices, medicines, jewels and glassware that were being traded along the way as well (see map above).

Besides trade, the Silk Road has also provided a channel for the spread of knowledge, cultures, and ideas. The different religious practices of the people living along these routes today are indicators of how contact and interaction had taken place during the ancient times. Buddhism and Islam are the most significant religions found along the Silk Road. This is evident from the many archaeological sites of Buddhist and Islamic places of worship found along the way.

Near the city of Dunhuang in the Gobi-desert (one of the many rest stops for traders), there are many Buddhist carvings and painting found in the cave-monasteries. These artefacts are well preserved and dates all the way back to the Han dynasty period (206BCE – 220CE) in China.

Mogao Caves - Dunhuang cave-monastery with many well-preserved Buddhist art. (above)

Also scattered throughout the small town of Turpan (another key city) near the Chinese-Muslim Xinjiang region in China, are the remains of ancient Islamic mosques which are still standing today.

Sulaiman Mineret - built during the Qing dynasty (1736CE – 11795CE). Dome at the top is a common style in Islamic architecture even till today. This is the oldest surviving Islamic structure in China. (above)


Exchange of ideas between cultures and civilisations occur when people of different countries come into contact with one another. In the past, contact and interaction between people of different civilisations occurred through direct physical contact such as wars, conquests, diplomacy and trade.

Describe some ways in which contact and interaction has occurred in modern Singapore? What evidence are there to show that contact and interaction has taken place in our society?

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Since her independence in 1965, Singapore has gone through many changes and progressed from an ex-British colony to a city state that is known as one of the Four Asian Tigers (together with Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan) due to its highly developed economies. This came about as a result of her rapid industrialisation from the day of her independence till the 1990s. By the 21st century, Singapore has developed into a city state with an advance and high-income economy.

Here is a list of some things which Singapore has achieved since her independence:
  • It is one of the cleanest cities in the world.
  • It is a green city - greenery all over the city. Appropriately, it is also called a 'garden city'.
  • It's airport - Changi Airport - has been voted as the best airport in the world for the last 10 years.
  • It's airline - Singapore Airlines - has been voted as the best airline in the world for more than 14 years.
  • It's port is the busiest port in the world - handling about 19 million TEU's (Twenty Footer Equivalents) per Annum.
  • It's housing policy is among the best in the world as about 95% of citizens have their own home.  Furthermore, the houses are quite spacious, have all the amenities nearby, e.g., market, supermarkets, multi-stall eating centres, library, swimming pool, bus stop, car park, school, etc.
  • It has an excellent public transport system which comprised of buses, trains & taxis.
  • It's infrastructure is one of the best in the world. This includes the world's best airport, world's busiest port, a very efficient and highly successful telecommunication service.
  • It has an efficient water distribution system. There is clean water readily available to every home.
  • Almost all Singaporeans can speak English, which is a huge plus in today's business world.
  • It was awarded as the best city in Asia to do business in 1998, 1999.
  • It has also been voted as freest economy in the world.
Today, we also see many landmarks around Singapore that is a reflection of her progress and development:

An engineering marvel. A dam in Singapore built across the bay, between Marina East and Marina South. It is also Singapore’s fifteenth reservoir.

The Marina Barrage was conferred the Superior Achievement Award - the highest honour of the competition for the best project entry - at the AAEE Annual Awards Luncheon held in Washington, DC, USA on 6 May 2009. The Marina Barrage beat 33 other entries to take home the top prize in the year's competition organised by the American Academy of Environmental Engineers (AAEE), becoming the second project outside of USA to win the award, in the last decade! [source: wikipedia]

However not all is well with the beautiful city state. With the reality of the worsening economy around the world, Singapore is also starting to feel the impact. The recent downgrading of the U.S. debt by Standard & Poor is believed to have some serious repercussions on Singapore’s economy in the days to come, as the city state has been very dependent on many foreign investments to keep her economy going. Being a country with very little natural resources, and a shortage of manpower, the Singapore government has been greatly dependent on attracting foreign human resources into the country. This has caused some discontent among the locals, and with the recent flooding in Orchard Road (something that has not happened since the 1970s), as well as other social issues, the country is beginning to feel the strain even more.


Singapore's Achievements - http://www.singaporemirror.com/ab_achvmts.htm
Marina Barrage - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marina_Barrage
The Four Asian Tigers - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Asian_Tigers


Would you consider Singapore to be experiencing its Golden Age now? Explain your answer.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Golden Age refers to a time in a specific culture where there is widespread peace and prosperity. The stability allowed scientific and artistic inventions to flourish in the society. Although great achievements in science and the arts were made throughout different times in history, there were a lot more achievements during the Golden Age than in any other times.

The term "Golden Age" comes from Greek mythology, and it a reference to the different "Ages of Humankind” (i.e. Golden, Silver, Bronze, Iron). The Golden Age of Greece began with the victory of the Greeks over Persians after the Greco-Persian Wars (546-479 BCE). Most of what we know about the wars comes from the works of Greek Historian Herodotus - He is regarded as the “Father of History”, as he was the first to document historical facts in proper.

During the Golden Age of Greece, there were tremendous achievements in the arena of government, philosophy, arts (literature, poetry, drama), science, medicine and astronomy.

Above - Athens, Greece - The birthplace of Democracy

Above - The early Greek theatre promoted some of its renowned playwrights

Above - Greek Philosophers whose ideas are still significant today
L- Socrates (c.469-399 BCE); R- Plato (c.427-347 BCE)
Above - Archimedes (c.287-212 BCE) – Greek Mathematician whose principle of buoyancy to displacement is still being used in Science today.

Above - Pythagoras (c.580-500 BCE) – Founded trigonometry (i.e. the Pythagoras’ Theorem)

Above - Hippocrates (c.460-377 BCE) – The “Father of Medicine” whose oath still governs the relationship between doctors and patients today.
Besides humanistic achievements, the Golden Age of Greece is also renowned for its architectural innovation and sculptures that are still being imitated today.

Top-The archaeological ruins of The Pathenon, Temple of Athena in Greece
Bottom L- The Supreme Court building in Singapore; Bottom R- The Supreme Court in Washington, DC

Many of the government architectures of the western world are derived from Greek designs. Such designs can also be found in Singapore. Do you know why?

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Picture (above): Symbols of the World's Religion. Can you recognise some of them?

Conflicts and violence are everywhere in our world. This is evident in almost every form of news media that you see daily - from newspapers to the Internet. We read about the on going war against terrorism in the Afghanistan, acts of terror in Mumbai, fighting between rebels and government troops in Libya just to cite a few examples. From Kosovo to Kashmir, there are many reasons for these conflicts and violence. Some blamed political ideology, civil or social injustice, poverty and even religion. Yes, even religion is a source of conflict in our world today. Throughout the ages, religions have been known to be discriminatory, it breeds stereotypes and it divides. It judges people and it motivated wars and even promoted violence. There are long track records of religious violence that are too bloody and public to deny.

But we know from the study of the history of different cultures that religion has always been a very important aspect of people's lives. Religion heals; it guides, it unites, and gives people a sense of purpose or direction. It builds inner peace, and promotes compassion or charity to the poor and needy. It is easy to look into religious conflicts today and propose that if we take religion out of the picture, we would no longer have them. But people are often passionate about their beliefs. There is never an easy solution, as we cannot simply remove it out of the social fabric of their lives. So can we use a different approach, like investing in religion as a solution to conflicts instead? Such approach often takes much courage and creativity.

Is religion a necessity in our World today? Explain your answer in 3-4 sentences in the comment box below. Remember to include your Class and Register Number.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Bronze is a mixture of copper and tin. It has a low melting point and a high degree of hardness when cooled. When it is cast, bronze can produce objects with razor-sharp edges and very detailed designs. Ancient China employed bronze objects as early as 4000 years ago (during the Longshan culture period). The use of bronze ceremonial vessels was at its peak during the Shang and Zhou Dynasties.

The religious practices of the Shang dynasty people rose from the belief in the spirits of ancestors in the supernatural world controlling the human earthly well-being. It was therefore necessary for the Shang people to offer prayers, food and drinks to them.

Below is an artefact found in a Shang tomb.

What do you think is the purpose of this artefact?
What does this artefact infer to you about the Shang dynasty people?

References Cited:

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


The earliest evidence of a writing system came from Mesopotamia (present day Iraq). For the past 200 years archaeologists working in the region discovered large collections of ancient written document in the form of clay tablets with a cuneiform script. These incised signs were the first know written script, which led scholars to conclude that writing was invented by the Sumerians (who inhabited Mesopotamia at that time) around 3100 BCE.

Back in the ancient times, not everyone can write (or were allowed to write). Writings were often done by the scribes or priests, who worked for the rulers or government. Considering that only a handful could write during those times, we should consider ourselves fortunate that humanity progressed this far, and that all of us here can read and write (something that we sometimes take for granted). Very early writings were often about government affairs, or religious issues. The Dead Sea Scrolls is an example of religious writings in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. It was discovered in some caves in Qumran (about a kilometer away from the Dead Sea), hence the name. The Dead Sea scrolls contain the earliest known surviving copies of Biblical texts on parchment and papyrus!

Writing comes in many forms. The ancient Egyptians wrote their language in the form of pictures (as a saying goes: "A picture is worth a thousand words!"). The writing is called hieroglyphs, which means "sacred carvings". These ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic writings could be deciphered today, thanks to the discovery of the Rosetta stone in Egypt by Napoleon's French army in 1799. The stone tablet had two forms of writing on it. One form is in ancient Greek, and the other in Egyptian hieroglyphs. This allowed scholars to eventually unlock the secrets of reading these ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs in 1822.

Above: The Rosetta Stone

However, not everything is that simple when it comes to the translation of ancient writings by scholars in this field. The ancient text often has to have a "key" in order for it to be translated. The "key" may come in the form of a side-by-side or word-for-word translation of the text like in the case of the Rosetta Stone. As of today, there are a few ancient writings that continue to remain untranslated, one particular set of ancient writings is the Rongo Rongo tablets of Easter Island (or Rapa Nui), which has remained a mystery till today. For over a hundred years since its discovery, much controversy surrounds the translation of these enigmatic inscriptions. According to oral traditions by the locals, these hieroglyphic-like inscriptions (about one centimeter high, very formal and highly stylised) were done using obsidian flakes or a shark's tooth! The descendants of Rapa Nui were of Polynesian descent, and was first believed to have inhabited Easter Island around 400CE.

Above: The Rongo Rongo Tablet of Easter Island

References cited: