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Monday December 4, 2006

Old watchtower may be under site

MALACCA: Beneath the site of the proposed modern tower, there could be another watchtower called the Middelsburgh Bastion built centuries ago.  

The bastion is believed to have been built to safeguard the Malacca River and to monitor the entry and exit of boats to the river port.  

Archaeologists are enthusiastic about the possibility of discovering the second most important watchtower in Malacca after the Santiago Bastion, at the revolving tower site. 

A corner of the wall facing the river has been discovered, which archaeologists believe could be the Middelsburgh Bastion.  

In June 2003, archaeologists uncovered centuries-old towers, forts and walls beneath the former football field of historic Dataran Pahlawan during the construction of the Dataran Pahlawan Melaka Megamall. 

GUESSWORK: The red line indicates the probable perimeter of Kota Melaka a few hundred years ago in present day Malacca city.
They found the Santiago Bastion built by the Portuguese after they defeated the last sultan of Malacca Sultan Mahmud Shah in 1511. The Santiago Bastion, built to monitor ships, also faced the sea. 

An old map showed a second Portuguese bastion – the Middelsburgh Bastion – sitting on the site where the modern tower is to be built.  

Meanwhile, it is learnt that the report prepared by archaeologists for Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim suggests that the ancient wall discovered at the site could have been built during the Dutch era in the 17th century. 

But there is also the likelihood that the Portuguese had built the fort (based on old maps dating back to the 16th century) and the Dutch could have modified the fort later.  

Melaka Museums Corporation has already requested that construction work on the revolving tower be halted to enable archaeologists to verify their find after parts of the ancient wall was unearthed. 

So far, a two-metre deep trench, measuring 10m long and 2m wide, has been dug.  

Related Stories:
Proposed Malacca project to be re-sited to preserve old wall
Ancient wall stays, tower goes


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