A Phoenician stone sarcophagus excavated last year at Għajn Klieb, on the outskirts of Rabat, is one of the major attractions in this exhibition at the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta.
The exhibition, entitled Meet the Phoenicians of Malta, brings to light the results of months of painstaking studies by a multidisciplinary team researching the sarcophagus and two other tombs discovered in the area, as well as their contents. The three tombs, although inherently different, shed light on the burial rituals of the earliest Phoenicians on the island.
Sarcophagi are coffins made of stone or terracotta and are exceptionally rare finds in Maltese archaeology, so much so that the previous discovery happened some 300 years ago. The sarcophagus featured in the exhibition was found by accident in a rock-cut tomb during road trenching works in 2001. At the time, the decision was taken to preserve it by leaving it in its original findspot. In 2020, increased development pressures to improve infrastructural services in the area led to the decision to investigate the tomb. A joint collaboration between three entities was set up in order to ensure the best use of the available resources in view of the rarity of the find.
The entities involved were the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, Heritage Malta and the Department of Classics and Archaeology at the University of Malta. Together they formed a team of archaeologists, osteologists, pottery specialists, conservators, diagnostic scientists and field archaeology support staff who are researching the tombs themselves as well as bones and other objects found inside them.
The exhibition is intended to provide visitors with a snapshot of the research undertaken so far. Moreover, the tomb in which the sarcophagus was discovered is put in the wider context of the ancient cemetery in the area of Għajn Klieb and Għajn Qajjet in Rabat which was used by the first Phoenicians who settled in Malta some 2700 years ago.
The exhibition runs until 30th October. Entrance is free of charge.
Meet the Phoenicians of Malta Exhibition
29 Aug 2022 - 30 Oct 2022
Mon to Sun: 09.00 am - 16.30 pm
National Museum of Archaeology, Valletta, Malta
National Museum of Archaeology, Valletta,
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