CHARONIA SHELL TRUMPET
(Maltese Bronja)

IN THE BEGINNING

Objects found during excavations open a window into the story of the inhabitants of the Maltese Islands, the story we look forward to sharing with you in this exhibition.

During the prehistoric period, the hammering and striking of stone must have been one of the prime acoustic elements. The sonority of natural or built spaces was another. However, we also have more direct evidence that large and smaller shells were being fished out of the surrounding waters. Strung small shells found in tombs were used as decorative ornaments and at the same time would have served as sound instruments that rattled during motion and during ritual.

The large charonia shell had the capability of producing magical sound that carried over large distances, sending precise messages, alerting the inhabitants and forming a part of the Islanders’ rituals. Early acoustic use of the conch around the Mediterranean becomes very clearly defined in Greek and Roman mythology and in early history. The increased movement of people around the Mediterranean led to the migration of musicians, and the sharing of musical ideas, artefacts and instruments.