The archaeology of the Maltese archipelago is remarkable. Lying at the heart of the central Mediterranean, ancient lives were, at times, moulded by isolation and harsh elements and the landscape is shaped by millennia of intensive land use. Ancient finds from the islands are rare, and those held in the British Museum form an important collection. Represented is a wide cultural range, spanning the Early and Late Neolithic, the Bronze Age, Roman and more recent historic periods. From the early 1880s, Malta attracted a fascinating array of historians, collectors and travellers and, on one level, the British Museum’s holdings represent their activities, but on another, the collections reflect the complex path antiquarianism has played out in Malta as it moved steadily toward fledgling archaeological investigations. Significantly, artefacts excavated by notable Maltese archaeologist, Sir Themistocles Zammit, at the key Neolithic site of Tarxien, and those uncovered by Margaret Murray at Borġ in-Nadur form a crucial part of the collection.
About the Authors:
Josef Mario Briffa SJ is Lecturer at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, and a Roman Catholic priest. He has recently completed his PhD at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London on The Figural World of the Southern Levant during the Late Iron Age. He also holds a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. His research has included the history of Maltese archaeology, with a focus on the work of Fr Emmanuel Magri SJ (1851-1907), pioneer in Maltese archaeology and folklore studies. He has excavated in Malta and Israel, and is currently a staff member of The Lautenschläger Azekah Expedition.
Claudia Sagona is Honorary Principal Fellow in the Centre for Classics and Archaeology at The University of Melbourne. Her research has taken her from the islands of the Maltese Archipelago, to the highlands of north-eastern Anatolia and the Caucasus. She has written a number of books concerning Malta’s ancient past, including a comprehensive volume for Cambridge University Press,The Archaeology of Malta : From the Neolithic through the Roman Period (2015), another on the Phoenician-Punic evidence, The Archaeology of Punic Malta (2002), and has delved into the Mithraic mystery cult, Looking for Mithra in Malta (2009). In 2007, she was made an honorary member of the National Order of Merit of Malta (M.O.M.).