The Gozo Museum of Archaeology is located in the Citadel and aims to illustrate the rich cultural history of the island of Gozo from prehistoric times to the early modern period. To fulfil this goal, it incorporates themes like burials, religion, art, food and daily life, making use of material from various archaeological sites in Gozo.
The Museum is located immediately behind the original gateway to the Citadel in Rabat, Gozo, and is housed in a 17th century townhouse, which was once the residence of the Bondì family. It subsequently fell into disuse and, consequently, remained long neglected until Sir Harry Luke, Lieutenant Governor of the Maltese Islands, took the initiative to restore it in 1937. In May 1960, Casa Bondì was inaugurated as the first public museum of Gozo hosting artefacts of archaeological as well as of ethnographic nature. The building came to house the archaeological collection in 1986 as part of a reorganisation programme of the Gozo museum collection into separate collections housed in separate buildings in the Citadel.
Since then, the Museum saw the restoration of its entire exterior, the refurbishment of the main hall on its first floor and, lately, the refurbishment of the ground floor and two more rooms on the first floor to house the new prehistoric section with an emphasis on the material excavated from the Xagħra Stone Circle.
The Museum’s permanent display is divided into three main sections: Prehistory, the Classical period, and the Medieval and Early Modern periods. The prehistoric display is spread out on several rooms and focuses on a number of themes. The introductory theme is devoted to the geological resources put to use by the prehistoric settlers in creating their dwellings, building their temples, and providing their daily livelihood. In a separate room, implements and containers are shown as indispensable items used by prehistoric man in his daily struggle for survival.
In the stairwell area, one finds substantial relics from the Ġgantija Temples consisting of a huge stone slab with a carved relief of a snake and a stone phallic symbol. The prehistoric display extends to the first floor where the visitor is provided with an overview of prehistoric art, religious practices, and burial customs. Predominant artefacts include the set of the so-called ‘stick figurines’ and the double-seated figurine from the Xagħra Stone Circle hypogeum. These prehistoric masterpieces are all carved in local Globigerina limestone. Another room is dedicated to the Bronze Age.
The Classical Period consists of Phoenician, Punic, and Roman artefacts found in several sites in Gozo and Comino. Artefacts range from those associated with burial, such as a glass urn with cremated remains and unique clay sarcophagi, to statuary and the decorative arts. Coins, jewellery, inscriptions, amphorae, lead anchor stocks, marble statuette fragments, and a life-size marble statue all form part of the collection. One concludes the museum visit with a display of materials from the Medieval and Early Modern periods.
Source: Heritage Malta