The Newsletter 94 Spring 2023

News from Southeast Asia

Terence Chong

Gold has been processed and revered since the beginning of the Metal Age in Southeastern Europe more than 7000 years ago. In Southeast Asia, the earliest gold objects are evidenced in burials of the Early Iron Age more than 2000 years ago.

Gold’s rarity makes it a precious commodity, while its durability conjures up notions of eternity and immortality. The warm lustre it exudes draws associations with the sun, and gold was thus linked to light and life. Gold’s malleability makes it suitable for different forms of expression. The vast variety of gold objects found by archaeologists around the world attests to its enduring appeal across time and cultures. In this edition of “News from Southeast Asia,” Natalie S. Y. Ong explores the significance of gold artefacts in premodern Singapore and how it can provide insight into the life of an ancient community.

Terence Chong is the regional editor for the News from Southeast Asia section of The Newsletter and Deputy Chief Executive Officer of ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute. E-mail:


Style and Substance: Investigating the Gold Ornaments of Ancient Temasek
By Natalie S. Y. Ong
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