The Singapore Stone: Documenting the Origins, Destruction, Journey and Legacy of an Undeciphered Stone Monolith

Kelvin Cahya YAP*, Tony Wenyao JIAO*, Francesco PERONO CACCIAFOCO*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Singapore Stone was a large monolith present at the mouth of the Singapore River, clad with a faded inscription that was a point of interest for local and foreign antiquarians and other enthusiasts, as no person—native or otherwise—could decipher the meaning of its tongue. Tragically, the stone was blasted in 1848 by East India Company engineers as part of works to widen the mouth of the river. Only four fragments were saved; these were sent to Calcutta’s Asiatic Society of Bengal and later placed in the custody of the Indian Museum. Today, only one fragment remains, which was returned to Singapore in 1919 and at present is displayed in the National Museum of Singapore. Over the past century and a half, there has been great interest in the fate of the lost fragments and in the mysterious inscription that the fragments hold. There have been various attempts at deciphering the Stone, with a variety of suggested interpretations and languages. This research paper compiles and documents both the physical journey of the fragments and the various attempts at deciphering them, aiming to comprehensively detail the Stone’s origins and journey from its erection to its present residence while providing an analysis of the past attempts at decipherment and the future of this effort.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-287
Number of pages16
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2023


  • Kawi
  • Sanskrit
  • Stone Inscription
  • Stone Fragments
  • Epigraphical Analysis
  • Southeast Asian Archaeology
  • National Museum of Singapore
  • Indian Museum
  • Asiatic Society of Bengal
  • Singapore Stone
  • Language Decipherment


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