The Gibraltar National Museum held its annual Open Day on Saturday 21 May, and it was made even more special than usual by the Minister for Heritage, Professor John Cortes, opening a new gallery dedicated to the Pillars of Hercules. The Pillars (Gibraltar and Monte Hacho) were an important geographical marker in classical times, because they signified the end of the known world.
The gallery spans approximately 8,000 years. It starts with the earliest arrivals from the Eastern Mediterranean in the Neolithic period, some 7,400 years ago, and ends with Roman artefacts from the 5th century CE. During this long period, people from diverse locations arrived at Gibraltar, which is known through the wide range of artefacts which have been found since, particularly from the eastern Mediterranean. Many of these items are from Egyptian, Phoenician, Greek, Carthaginian and Roman times, and there were some that had been locally made in southwestern Iberia, notably Tartessos.
The artefacts on display at the museum include scarabs, beads, amulets and ceramics from Gorham’s Cave. There are also Roman amphorae and lead anchor stocks, retrieved from the seabed, as well as lamps and fishing equipment.
Among the most striking items are the reconstructions of the Neolithic “Calpeia” and the Bronze Age “Yantar”, the latter on display for the first time. Also on show for the first time are the remains of the Gorgon Medusa’s ceramic plaque (Gorgoneion) as well as a full reconstruction.
As he inaugurated the gallery, Professor Cortes said it contained the most comprehensive display of artefacts, representing the Pillars, ever to have been brought together in the Gibraltar National Museum, and that he was "delighted to declare this groundbreaking gallery officially open during a unique and exciting Museum Open Day".