Malta Archaeology

By | December 26, 2021

New archaeological research and analytical insights on data known for some time have allowed fundamental advances in knowledge of Malta’s antiquities in the last decade. As regards the prehistoric phase, the activity of the Italian mission of the Camuno Center for prehistoric studies should be noted which, between 1985 and 1987, achieved results of considerable interest.

In fact, the chronology of the beginning of human population in the archipelago has been clarified, which can now be placed, thanks to dating with the C 14 method, around 6000 BC. dating systems bring back the first substantial traces of organized social life (identified in the open-air settlement of Skorba) to a period between 5300 and 4500 BC Compared to the previously traced picture, the chronology of the subsequent phases of Maltese prehistory: the epoch of the maximum development of the great polylobate temples would coincide with the 4th millennium BC, while the innovative phase called ” Tarxien Cemetery ” should be raised, remaining included within the first half of the 2nd millennium BC.C. Studies conducted by the Italian mission itself on the great prehistoric temples of Malta have highlighted some significant topographical constants: it has in fact been noted that they were erected in nodal points of the territory, in a position of connection between the high and low ridges of the hills, or near fords, or in relation to important coastal landings, testifying to their non-secondary role in the context of the territorial organization and perhaps of the economy of prehistoric Maltaor in relation to important coastal landings, testifying to their not secondary role in the framework of the territorial organization and perhaps of the economy of Malta preistorica.or in relation to important coastal landings, testifying to their not secondary role in the framework of the territorial organization and perhaps of the economy of Malta preistorica. For Malta 2011, please check

The most recent investigations on the ground have enriched in a decisive way the knowledge on the domestic architecture of Malta in prehistoric times, previously limited only to the Skorba complex. In fact, an archaeological mission identified two residential structures in Gozo in 1984, in the locality of Ghajnsielem Road.

The first, oval in shape and 8 × 5 m wide, was equipped with platforms leaning against the internal wall perimeter and a central pillar, intended to support the covering of the compartment. The second, 2 m on each side, was approximately square in shape, and an external pillar made of raw bricks (a material of which abundant traces have been found in the area) suggested the existence of a door. The chronology of the structures, linked to that of the great temple of Ġgantija on the same island of Gozo, should be placed around the beginning of the 3rd millennium BC.

Recent studies on Maltese pottery of the 5th-3rd millennium BC have revealed precise contacts with other Mediterranean areas, first of all Sicily, but also, for the period of Skorba (3600-3200 BC), with the Egyptian area and, for the phase of Tarxien (2700-2200 BC), with the Sardinian culture of Ozieri and with contemporary cultures of Greece and the French region.

Excavations of the Italian archaeological mission of the University of Rome and of the CNR, and findings due to the Museums Department of Valletta have given, in the last decade, notable results in the characterization of the ways of settling Phoenician people in the archipelago. These seem to have initially privileged the elevated regions of the interior and the port area of ​​Marsaxlokk, renouncing the creation of their own settlements in favor of cohabitation with the indigenous populations in the pre-existing centers. The analysis of the distribution and the extent of the Phoenician cemetery systems has substantially confirmed the indication of Ptolemy, which speaks of two major urban settlements located respectively around Rabat and in the same area of ​​Marsaxlokk where the Phoenicians erected their greatest island sanctuary, that of Tas Silg dedicated to Astarte. In the context of the more general phenomenon of Phoenician expansion in the West, Malta reveals, in the light of the most recent archaeological studies, a very peculiar role, with an early loosening of relations with the nearby Phoenician colonies of North Africa and Sicily and with the rapid creation of in-depth economic and cultural relations with Sicilian centers. The ceramic finds, in particular, are a clear testimony both of the influence of Greek Sicily on the Phoenician culture of the archipelago, and of the weight of the indigenous component in the evolution of the Phoenician-Punic civilization of Malta. As regards the craftsmanship of the Phoenician-Punic age, the stone columns with crowns of hanging leaves, already considered a peculiarity of Malta, actually turned out to be censers, of a type also attested by terracotta specimens. Recently, the hypothesis has also been proposed that the two marble stones with Greek-Phoenician bilingual inscriptions, long known, were placed at the entrance of a Maltese temple dedicated to Melqart.

For the late Roman and Byzantine age, a systematic survey of the catacombs of the archipelago was conducted, distributed in about thirty locations. The articulated typological variety of the structures emerged (tomb-windows, arcosoli, niches, canopied tombs, ” bench ” or ” table ” tombs). The plants, mostly built starting from the 4th century AD, are reused until the 8th-9th century.

Malta Archaeology