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Title: Trunkless legs of stone : debating ritual continuity at tas-Silġ, Malta
Authors: Vella, Nicholas C.
Keywords: Tas-Silg complex (Marsaxlokk, Malta)
Antiquities, Prehistoric -- Malta -- Marsaxlokk
Excavations (Archaeology) -- Malta -- Marsaxlokk
Statues -- Malta -- History
Ritual -- Malta -- History
Phoenicians -- Malta
Issue Date: 1999
Publisher: Prehistoric Society of Malta
Citation: Vella, N. (1999). Trunkless legs of stone: debating ritual continuity at tas-Silġ, Malta. In A. Mifsud, & C. Savona Ventura (Eds.), Facets of Maltese Prehistory (pp. 226-232). Malta: Prehistoric Society of Malta
Abstract: Like the traveller from an antique land in Percy Shelley's sonnet 'Ozymandias', it is a pair of trunkless legs of stone that caught the attention of the present writer and inspired the title of this paper. The damaged statue I have in mind was discovered by Italian archaeologists at the site of Tas-Silġ in 1964 and is at present exhibited at the National Museum of Archaeology in Malta (Ciasca 1965: 57; Mallia 1965: 75-76) [Figures 1 & 2]. It represents a figure sculpted in high relief from a rectangular block of soft globigerina limestone, measuring 1.14 m. high, 0.49 m. wide, and 0.47 m. deep [Figures 3 & 4, plate 1a]. The figure wears a skirt and stands on short and swollen calves above a low plinth decorated with running spirals on a pitted background with a border round the top. The feet are partly damaged but the toes of the right foot are visible. Above the waist the damage increases in extent and in depth and most of the thorax is missing; enough of the arms survive, however, to show that they were held across the waist below two folds of the abdomen. Francis Mallia, then curator of the National Museum, was responsible for the publication of the statue: he dated the sculpture to the Tarxien phase, now known to have ended about 2600 cal BC, and maintained that the scars on the surface were 'made by the blade of a farmer's plough in going over the relic year after year and hitting its most prominent parts' (Mallia 1965: 75).
Description: An Index follows this Chapter.
ISBN: 9993215007
Appears in Collections:Facets of Maltese Prehistory

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