Temple and Tomb: Maltese prehistoric wonders in New York
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Heritage Malta’s National Museum of Archaeology will be participating in an exhibition ‘Temple and Tomb: Prehistoric Malta 3600-2500 BC,’ at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World of New York University.
This is the first time ever that an exhibition on Malta’s unique Neolithic culture is being held in the United States. The exhibition focuses specifically on the Temple period of Malta and includes prestigious artefacts from Hagar Qim, the Tarxien Temples, the Hypogeum and the Xaghra Stone Circle.
These include the so-called ‘Venus of Malta,’ the ‘Twin Seated figurine,’ the ‘Stick Idols,’ jewellery and decorated megaliths, which are testimony to the high craftsmanship, impressive sophistication and complex culture of the islanders at the time. A series of historic plans, drawings and photographs will also accompany these objects.
The area of the Xaghra Stone Circle was first used in the early Temple period (4100-3800 BC) and at a later stage, it was enclosed by the megalitic circle. This must have been more than 120 metres in circumference of which only a stretch of about 26 metres survives consisting of uprights two metres high and one metre wide on average.
The site consists of a series of natural cavities of various sizes adapted for burials. The excavations produced new knowledge of the funerary customs of the prehistoric people of the Maltese Islands. It also produced unique and exciting artifacts, such as stone axes, personal ornaments, and statuettes.
The most interesting discovery was of two finely carved stone figures on a couch portraying a pair of obese, probably female, figures seated side by side. Another Important discovery was of a symbolic family group, perhaps deities.
Such an exhibition is a perfect occasion to export Malta’s millennial heritage to the United States. Undoubtedly it will increase awareness of Malta’s rich cultural heritage and will hopefully draw a greater share of American cultural tourists to Malta.
The exhibition, which opened on the 21st of March, will run for over three months until the 7th of July and is expected to draw a large number of visitors.