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Title: Cremation burials in early Bronze Age Malta : evidence from Tarxien and Ggantija
Authors: Azzopardi, George
Keywords: Bronze age -- Malta
Tarxien Temples (Tarxien, Malta)
Ggantija Temples (Xaghra, Malta)
Cremation -- Malta -- History
Human remains (Archaeology) -- Malta
Burial -- Malta
Prehistoric peoples -- Malta
Funeral rites and ceremonies -- Malta
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: The Archaeological Society
Citation: Azzopardi, G. (2011). Cremation burials in early Bronze Age Malta : evidence from Tarxien and Ggantija. Malta Archaeological Review, 8, 9-17
Abstract: A common way of disposing of the dead across the entire Mediterranean (and even beyond) from prehistoric down to late Roman times was to bury the corpse - or the burnt remains, if cremated - in a built chamber or in a floor cavity and then cover it up under a mound of stones and/or earth, usually encircled by a kerb or retaining stone wall. Sizes varied and larger ones might even have a passage providing access to the burial chamber. In many cases, these burial mounds or tumuli used to be circular, having an overall appearance of a cone, hut, or hill. It is worth investigating whether the resemblance of burial mounds to huts was intentional or merely accidental (something which I do not intend to do in this contribution). If it was intentional, was it meant to convey an idea of the tomb as a house of the dead? In this contribution, I shall be dealing with cremation burials on the Maltese islands in the early Bronze Age (Tarxien Cemetery phase: 2400-1500 B.C.), focusing, towards the end, on a type of clay figurine associated - as yet, exclusively - with this early Bronze Age practice. Some new interpretations are attempted in respect of both the burials themselves as well as the mentioned figurines. To this end, I shall be resorting to evidence from two temple sites: those at Tarxien and Ggantija, with the richer corpus of evidence coming from the former. To begin with, I derive insights for my interpretations by initially resorting to the earliest literary evidence we have and which concerns the Aegean region where it comes from. But I also draw on comparisons with some other sites and/or materials outside the Maltese islands. It is mainly this comparative approach that, for the greater part, provides the backbone of my arguments.
Appears in Collections:MAR, Issue 08 (2006/2007)
MAR, Issue 08 (2006/2007)

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