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Author Topic: Private Archaeological Collection Donated To Heritage Malta  (Read 154 times)
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« on: March 01, 2007, 07:16:17 PM »

Private archaeological collection donated to Heritage Malta 
January 2007         
   Heritage Malta has received a donation of over 300 Punic and Phoenician artefacts which will enrich the national collection. A selection of these artefacts is being exhibited at the National Museum of Archaeology, Valletta. The collection was donated by Chev. Joseph Sammut who inherited them from his late grandfather Ganni Sammut in 1958.

   Ganni Sammut was born in 1881; he was a blacksmith of humble origins but with a keen interest in Malta?s history coupled with an inherent talent in identifying and selecting artefacts of intrinsic value.

   The majority of this collection is made up of business gifts from local contractors which they found while digging the foundations of various buildings in the early 20th century. Another source of acquisition was direct purchase from local auctions. Ganni Sammut sometimes purchased items to prevent such artefacts being acquired by foreigners and hence being exported from Malta. He never sold any artefact, and the collection remained complete.

   Chev. Joseph Sammut, who also takes a profound interest in Malta?s history, presented the collection to Heritage Malta?s chairman Dr Mario Tabone and Minister for Tourism and Culture Francis Zammit Dimech yesterday at the National Museum of Archaeology.

   Dr Tabone thanked Chev. Joseph Sammut for his generous gesture saying that by donating the collection to the national agency for museums, conservation practice and cultural heritage the artefacts could be conserved, safeguarded, researched and displayed, and thus rendered more accessible to the general public.

   Although it is known that most of the artefacts were originally found in tombs in Rabat (Malta) and Qormi, their exact provenance remains unknown. Contrary to modern day practice, when Ganni Sammut built his collection the exact context and documentation of the artefacts were not deemed as important as the retrieval of the artefacts themselves. However, although some details on the artefacts are missing, the collection has items of prime importance. This collection was published by Claudia Sagona of the University of Melbourne as part of the catalogue Punic Antiquities of Malta and other Ancient Artefacts held in Ecclesiastical and Private collections.

   The Joseph Sammut Archaeological Collection is currently on display in the lobby of the National Museum of Archaeology, Republic Street, Valletta until 18 February. The exhibition is open Monday to Sunday between 9am and 7pm and admission is free.    


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