The archaeological activity on the island of Malta in the fifteen years 1960-74 has brought a notable increase in knowledge both for the prehistoric and for the historical phases. For prehistoric times, the Anglo-Maltese excavations at Skorba have changed the traditional chronology of the various island phases: Skorba itself has given its name to a new phase, divided into the periods “Gray Skorba” and “Red Skorba” and relating to the period 3600-3200 to. Christ. The findings at the site, however, concern a much longer period of time: of the two temples brought to light, and both characterized by the typical lobe plan, the west one remained in use from about 2850 to 1500 BC; the east one was built in the Tarxien period (about 2400-2000 BC). In the same area a prehistoric village was found for the first time in Malta datable between 3800 and 2450 BC approximately. Sporadic discoveries relating to the Maltese prehistoric phases took place in Luqa in 1960, in Birżebbuga in 1963 and in Msierak in 1964. The most important acquisitions in recent years are linked to the activity of the Italian archaeological mission at Tas Silg; here, on the site already occupied by a megalithic temple dating back to the Tarxien phase, a Phoenician sanctuary dedicated to Astarte-Tanit has been identified. The dedications to Hera found in the sacred area identify the temple with the fanum Iunonis quoted by Cicero in the Verrines. For Malta 2009, please check hyperrestaurant.com.
The Phoenician system, which dates back to the 8th century BC, largely used the curvilinear walls of the previous temple, correcting them only in part in a rectilinear sense; cultic furnishings were also reused, such as the sacrificial stone and the threshold that leads into the innermost compartment. The building was preceded by a courtyard and surrounded by a temenos. Deep alterations affected the sanctuary from the 5th century BC: the temenos was enlarged, which was equipped with rooms to the north and south, and the entrance threshold was completed with an element of lintel. During the Roman period a portico was erected in the court and access to the Templar area was arranged via a ramp. A further Templar phase is documented for the secc. 1st-4th century AD, while from the 5th century AD a church was erected in the area. The sanctuary shows, in its Phoenician phase, an aspect of marked internationality: the capitals with crowns of hanging leaves (which only Malta documents among the western colonies), the group of ivories (between which stands out a palmette laminated in gold) and a stone model of an Egyptizing shrine, which incorporates architectural forms known from Phenicia. For relations with the Greek world, there are Hellenic ceramic forms of the 6th-4th century BC apparently unknown to the rest of the Punic world. On the other hand, direct relations with the Carthaginian area seem scarce and sporadic. Further evidence of Punic interest was brought to light by the Italian mission itself in San Paolo Milqi, where a 3rd-2nd century BC farm was found with industrial installations (basins, canals, wells) and modest burials of the same period. More important, also in San Paolo Milqi, are the remains of the Roman rustic villa, datable between the 2nd century BC and the 1st AD and consisting of living quarters, with sometimes painted plasters, and systems for agricultural exploitation.
From the site also come notable testimonies of the Pauline tradition to Malta: a block of stone depicting the saint and a ship, a PAYLYS inscription, representations of fish and crosses, engraved on bricks, all datable between the 3rd and the 7th century AD. Christ. Also for the Punic phase, the findings of burials recently carried out in the centers of Pawla, Rabat, Żebbuġ, Msierak, Siġġiewi are worth mentioning. Finally, it should be remembered the identification in Ras il-Wardija, on the island of Gozo, again by the Italian mission, of a late-Punic sanctuary, with a large enclosure in the lower part and a compartment dug into the rock in the upper part., on whose walls there are platforms for offerings. Various indications suggest that, as in the Tas Silg sanctuary, rites inherited from island prehistory were held in Ras il-Wardija.