The Islands of Malta ar geographically small, but there is nothing diminutive about their past relics and monuments. Maltese antiquarians saw in these monuments testimonies of the ebb and flow of social groups and individuals, and often claimed special connections, real or otherwise, with landmark events in human history. Seeking a tangible link to their heritage, collectors, especially those of the 18th and 18th centuries, gathered pottery and other artefacts for their shelves. Many of these private collections of antiquities held in Malta are vast, but for the most part unkown beyond its shores. Although the majority of artefacts are of the Punic period, they do reflect the island’s contacts with other ancient cultures and markets of the Mediterranean. This volume presents well over a thousand antiquities and is an extensive resource for those interested in Malta’s rich cultural heritage. It forms a companion volume to C. Sagona’s The Archaeology of Punic Malta, (2002, Peeters Press), consolidating further the evidence presented in that detailed study.
Ancient artefacts that comprise the private collections of Malta came largely from the Phoenician and later Punic burial grounds of the archipelago. In many respects, the perception of the islands’ ancient population as depicted in recent historic accounts has suffered from a limited knowledge of what has been found in the islands over the last few centuries. Co-authored with Isabelle Vella Gregory and Anton Bugeja, this book forms a companion volume to Claudia Sagona’s The Archaeology of Punic Malta (2002, Peeters) and Punic Antiquities of Malta and Other Ancient Artefacts Held in Ecclesiastic and Private Collections (2003, Peeters). More than 700 objects, many brought into the public arena for the first time, are documented in this volume. The artefacts are held in three collections that of Joseph Attard Tabone, of the Palazzo Parisio (Naxxar) and of St. Georg’es Parish Church (Qormi). While much of the material is characteristically Phoenician and Punic, imported Cypriot, Greek, Italian and other wares demonstrate that the islands were drawn into the ancient economic and political exchanges of the Mediterranean region.