Located right in the Citadel, Gozo’s own Museum of Archaeology is truly worth a visit not only because it covers different phases of Gozo’s prehistory, going through the classical and medieval times up to early modern story but it also delves into different spheres and aspects such as daily life, art, food, religion and burial customs all of which makes up the fascinating history of the island.
Here are four impressive artefacts from the Gozo Museum of Archaeology.
- Amphorae – Exhibited within the Museum is an impressive collection of amphorae dating back to the Roman period. These amphorae many of which have been salvaged in 1960’s by divers from the sea bed in Xlendi are part of the main relics from two shipwrecked vessels.
- The marble statuette of Romulus and Remus – Who would image that on this rocky island one can discover such an ornate and detailed masterpiece of a she- wolf suckling the legendary Romulus and Remus? Allegedly found in Fontana (c. 1720) is one of the most intriguing artefacts which generates debate among historians and academics due to the different dating interpretations.
- A glass funerary urn dating from 1st or 2nd century A.D. -The glass urn which is squarish in shape has twin handles and contains the cremated remains of a human being. It was found in Rabat, in an area that was a burial zone just outside the fortified walls of the city.
- A girl’s tombstone or epitaph – The tombstone of Majmuma, a girl who died on 21st March 1174, a period when the Maltese islands were ruled by the Normans is one of the treasured items. In fact, the tombstone carved out in marble and scripted in Kufic (old Arabic) can be considered as an indication that under the Norman rulers, Islam was still the dominant religion on the island. It is interesting to note that the tombstone has some Roman decorations at the back hinting that it must have been recycled. The tombstone was allegedly found in the limits of Xewkija but some believe that it originally arrived in Gozo from North Africa.
These are just four items that are exhibited in this tiny museum. However there are so many more artefacts that are truly alluring and captivating. The archaeology museum is like a walk through the ages from the times of the first settlers, the Temple builders, the Bronze Age, followed up by the Phoenician, Punic and Roman eras right through the Arab and Medieval periods. The building itself, a fine 17th-century townhouse, was originally used as a Town Hall by the Knights of St. John and is in itself a unique attraction just at the Old Gate entrance of the Citadel.