Accidental find at Għar Dalam

Archaeological investigations are currently under way at the prehistoric site of Għar Dalam. These studies were instigated by the discovery of dumped material in a dilapidated room located close to Għar Dalam cave which contained numerous fragments of prehistoric animal bones.

This accidental find took place last May during the removal of vegetation from above and around the dilapidated room, when alien trees were being eliminated from the area as part of Heritage Malta’s efforts to replace alien and invasive species with indigenous plants and trees in collaboration with ERA. The works carried out in May also uncovered the original (then blocked) doorway of the room.

Preliminary studies of the section of material that was exposed after the re-opening of the door revealed numerous fragments of prehistoric animal bones that were typically found within Għar Dalam cave. This made it clear that this dilapitated room was filled in by soils of different types that must have been excavated from the cave. Further archaeological investigations, which are still under way, have brought to light more finds of prehistoric animal bones and pottery fragments.

Għar Dalam is one of the Islands’ prime palaeontological, archaeological and natural sites and much has been done in the past to study the information held within the layers deposited in it. In understanding the importance of this site, Heritage Malta has started a concerted effort to place Għar Dalam within the context of its landscape and the nearby sites.

A number of other studies which form part of a larger project intended to create physical and intellectual accessibility between Għar Dalam, Ta’ Kaċċatura, Borġ in-Nadur, and nearby sites, are also being planned. These comprise a full digital survey of Għar Dalam, including cave and overlying areas, a structural survey of the cave, a full digital survey of Ta’ Kaċċatura Roman villa and nearby sites, archaeological cleaning of Ta’ Kaċċatura, and archaeological investigations in selected areas within and around the site. New visitor facilities and new interpretation strategies for both Għar Dalam and nearby sites are also being envisaged.

The current excavations are being carried out by Heritage Malta in collaboration with the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, and with the help of volunteers from the Classics and Archaeology Students Association (CASA).


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