National Museum of Archaeology

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The Auberge de Provence in Republic Street is the present home of this important museum. One finds here an array of archaeological remains from the numerous prehistoric temples in Malta and Gozo, together with remains of the Bronze Age and of the Roman period in these islands.

Neolithic and Bronze Age material is displayed on the groundfloor i.e. in the large entrance hall, in the main exhibition hall and in four other rooms.

Huge blocks of stone, sacrificial altars, statues and large earthenware vases fill most of the available space. Smaller objects are displayed in glass show-cases. These are classified in chronological order starting with the Ghar Dalam Phase (3200 BC)and proceeding to the Copper Age and Temple period (3200 - 2000BC) and the Bronze Age (2000 - 800 BC).

Exhibits in the entrance hall include two original stone screens from Tarzien Temple, a decorated altar from Hagar Qim and a bulky iron anchor from the Roman period.

In the main room are models of the Neolithic Temples and of the Hypogeum, curious statues and other material recovered from archaeoster Gregorio Carafa. The build marked in prehistoric sequence.

The Tarxien Room contains rellcs from the last phase of the Temple period found at Tarxien such as pottery jars and bowls, stone implements, tiny figurines and fishbone ornaments.

In the Bronze Age Room, items on display comprise specimen daggers and axes - the first metal objects found in Malta. There are also fine earthenware vases, red-slip jars, personal ornaments, loom weights and quaint clay figurines.

In an annex on the other side of the entrance hall are original monoliths, a large statue of a goddess, and a complete table-altar – all from Tarxien Temples.

Further decorative monoliths are on display in another room near the staircase. The ‘Sleeping Lady’ and the ‘Maltese Venus’, two small statuettes of great archaelogical importance, can be seen behind glass in this same room.

The first floor, or piano nobile, is made up of the Auberge’s main hall, the Punic Room and the Roman Room.

The Punic Room contains the famous marble ‘Cippus’ with Greek and Phoenician inscriptions. Other items include a Punic terracotta coffin, 7th and 8th century burial chambers, and remains from such tombs.

In the Roman Room there is an earthenware chest coffin, models of tombs, several types of oil lamps from the Catacombs, decorated bowls, a ‘bilychnis’ saucer and specimens of Roman glassware.

The spacious hall, which gives on to Republic Street, has fine wall and soffit decorations. The magnificent hall was the centre of social life and activity in the heyday of the Auberge. There are no exhibits in this hall, which is left empty and sometimes used for exhibitions.

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