Cippi Louvre Abu Dhabi
UAE and Malta: Reuniting the Cippi in Abu Dhabi
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To celebrate the 50-year anniversary of the diplomatic relationship between the UAE and the Republic of Malta, Louvre Abu Dhabi announced two remarkable loans from the Valletta National Museum of Archaeology and Musée du Louvre.

The two ornamental pillars, which date to the 3rd or 2nd century BCE are decorated with beautifully carved alternating acanthus and lance-like leaves and set on rectangular bases, both of which contain identical inscriptions in Phoenician and Greek script. It was the Greek inscriptions on the cippi of Malta that were key in deciphering the Phoenician alphabet in 1758 by Abbé Barthélémy, a French epigraphist, much like the ancient Greek text on the Rosetta Stone held the key to deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs in 1822. Following this deciphering, one of the cippi was offered to France by the Order of Malta.

Mid Focal Length of Malta Loan.

For the first time in more than 240 years a pair of ornamental pillars, known as cippi, will be on display together at Louvre Abu Dhabi and will be available to the public for a year, from May 2023 to June 2024.

Currently housed separately at Musée du Louvre and the National Museum of Archaeology, Valletta, the display of the ornamental pillars at Louvre Abu Dhabi marks the reunion of the cippi pair which had been parted since 1782. The display of the cippi will form part of the thematic concerned with crossroads of influences between East and West in Gallery 5 at the museum, which is devoted to Civilisations and Empires.

Сippi. 3d-2nd century BCE. Malta Marble H. 106, W.34, D. 33.5 cm. Courtesy of Musée du Louvre.

Although geographically apart and diverse, Malta and the United Arab Emirates will to work together has brought them to cooperate on many levels and in the cultural sector as well. This is the first-ever exhibition that Malta is putting up at the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

Manuel Rabaté, Director, Louvre Abu Dhabi, said: “The reunion of these remarkable ornamental pillars at Louvre Abu Dhabi is a testament to our mission of telling stories of cultural connections. For the first time in over 240 years, these cippi will be displayed together, marking a significant moment in the preservation and celebration of our shared heritage. These loans showcase the power of art to bridge the gaps across times, geographies, and civilisations. Through this collaboration with the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta, Malta and the Musée du Louvre in Paris, we have brought together these extraordinary pieces. This rare opportunity to see these cippi up close offers a fascinating and enriching experience for our visitors, underscoring our commitment to sharing the beauty and significance of cultural artefacts.”

Cippi. 3rd-2nd century BCE. Malta Marble H. 106, W.34, D. 33.5 cm. Courtesy of National Museum of Archaeology of Valletta.

You may also be interested in reading about five upcoming exhibitions at Louvre Abu Dhabi.

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