Etruscan urns in the national collection, normally kept in storage, are being displayed in a temporary exhibition at the National Museum of Archaeology up to September 23, Heritage Malta said.

The national collection includes artefacts excavated locally or donated to the museum throughout the years. In the case of the latter, not all originate from Malta, and due to space restrictions are not chosen for permanent displays.

Heritage Malta’s ethos is to be as accessible as possible and at times, such artefacts such are displayed in temporary exhibitions.

These four urns, one lid and one front piece were stored together with a typewritten plaque with the donor’s name - Francesco They. There was also a note stating they were probably imported to Malta in the 19th century.

These urns were commonly used by the Etruscans who flourished along the Italian coast just north of Rome between the eighth and first centuries BC.

The Etruscans, who both inhumed and cremated their dead until the end of the first century BC, were renowned for producing this type of memorial from the late fourth century BC.

The Etruscans deposited ashes in a range of containers, cinerary urns being one of them. They seem to have been also the first to invent the custom of reproducing figures on the lids of cinerary urns, an influence later taken up by the Romans.

They interacted with both the Greeks in southern Italy and the Romans in central Italy, and the imagery on the urns showed that exchange of ideas flowed freely between artists of these cultures.

Admission to the exhibition will be during normal museum opening hours (9am-6pm). It will be free of charge.

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