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date: 22 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Figurative art developed in the Maltese islands during the Neolithic, as part of the Temple Culture that flourished c.3500–2500 bc. Anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figurines, carved from stone or modelled in terracotta represented, not only a distinct Maltese identity but also significant artistic competence. From very large to very small, the material ranges from objects used in burials to immense statues that decorated temple interiors. Some anthropomorphic figures are dressed, others naked, some obese, others stick-like, and another category associated with mortuary sites is represented lying and sitting on elaborate beds. The figurative art appears to fall into distinct categories of anthropomorphic and domestic creatures, alongside more speculative representations that focus on cold-blooded reptiles and fish, or feathered birds. The potential to interpret this ‘art’ as representative of a layer cosmology is explored within the context of a Neolithic island society.

Keywords: Maltese identity, Temple Culture, Neolithic, anthropomorphic figurines, zoomorphic figurines

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