Malta has so much more to offer its visitors than just great weather. As said earlier, it is also home to some a vast array of stunning architecture and buildings of interest. One such building is the National Museum of Archaeology, so let us take a closer look at what this magnificent attraction offers to all those possessing even the slightest interest in history and the millennia gone by.
What is the National Museum of Archaeology?
As you’ve probably guessed, the museum is indeed centred all around archaeology and is home to a number of prehistoric artefacts that date back literally centuries upon centuries, as the earliest exhibits are around 7,000 years old. The museum can be found in Valetta and is located in the imposing Auberge de Provence – a majestic baroque building adding its beauty to the capital city of Malta – which dates all the way back to the year 1571. Back then, however, it was not a museum, but the ‘House to the Knights’ of the order of none other than St John himself. Since 1958, the imposing building has been the home of the National Museum of Archaeology, and was greatly modernized in 1998.
What can guests expect to find in the museum?
Guests to the museum will be fortunate enough to view a wide selection of artefacts, many of which date from Malta’s prehistoric era and especially from the Mġarr, Ġgantija, Saflieni and Tarxien phases during which the unique Maltese stone temples were built.
The first room of the museum is home to pieces that can trace man’s earliest settlements in Malta, all the way through to the temple building periods themselves. Examples in the first room include primitive tools, representatives of native animal life found in the area, reconstructions of rock-cut temples and ornaments from the Red Skorba phase (figurines from that era are probably the very first human representations ever found in Malta).
The most popular part of the museum is perhaps the main hall, which has a section dedicated to the amazing temple carvings of Malta. These displays include: temple representations, wildlife examples, temple models, and famous human figures including ‘The Sleeping Lady’ from the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum, as well as the ‘Venus of Malta’ from Ħaġar Qim. In addition to the full-figured female statues varying in size from mere 4 mm to almost 3 meters, you will encounter a number of phallic representations. The fact that these plump “ladies” seem to dominate amongst the findings suggests that the Maltese practiced a fertility cult, not just in terms of bearing children but also regards reproduction of the nature, such as yearly crops.
Moving on you will find a number of collectibles from around the temple periods, including pottery, ornaments, tools, beads, as well as the seated headless statuette, Obsidian Core, which you simply must see before leaving the museum. Other museum highlights include, for example, the beautiful Horus and Anubis pendant from the Phoenician Period and a peculiar sarcophagus.
Location, opening times, and tickets
The museum is located on Republic Street, Valetta, and is within easy walking distance from the city’s bus terminal. The museum is open Mon – Sun from 08.00 to 19.00, with last admissions taking place at 18.15. Infants gain entry for free, children aged 6 – 11 gain entry for €2.50 per ticket, senior citizens, students, and youths aged 12 – 17 will gain entry for €3.50, and adults’ tickets cost exactly €5.
*Please note that the museum is closed on Dec 24th, 25th, and the 31st, as well as the 1st Jan, and Good Friday.