Posts Tagged ‘Hypogeum’


    Jadeite amulet (Copyright - Heritage Malta - Daniel Cilia)Who knows whose neck the exotic jadeite amulet adorned? To reach the Maltese shores, this item travelled a very long distance in prehistoric times. Therefore, it must have been really treasured, raising the status of its owner. It is difficult to see a symbolic meaning in such an amulet, however, it was chosen to accompany an individual who was laid to rest at the Xagħra Circle in Gozo.

    We all know that person who would throw nothing away, and keeps mending an object till the very last. Well, it seems that such persons have existed since prehistoric times. A jar which was unearthed at Skorba Temples was drilled with pairs of holes above and below the crack to tie the two parts together with a long string. Who could tell whether these interventions served their purpose?

    Dagger from Ghar Mirdum (Copyright - Heritage Malta - Daniel Cilia)To whom did the elegant bone and copper dagger, that was discovered at Għar Mirdum in Dingli Cliffs, belong? Clearly designed for prestige rather than for defence, such a lovely object is unlikely to have been casually lost. So why was it left in this buried cave?

    Was the heavily pregnant female clay figure which was found at the Tarxien Temples, pierced in sixteen places with sharp fragments of shell, really intended to curse an opponent by magical means? And did the magic spell work?

    While the first clay figure of the Sleeping Lady that was found in the Hypogeum of Ħal Saflieni rested on its side, another one discovered at the same site, lies face down with her breasts hidden beneath her. If either or both these figures could come to life, they would tell us a great deal about what we should dearly like to know about themselves and their times, though we might have great difficulty in understanding what they had to say. What would it take to wake them up?

    Carinated bowl from the North Cave at Ggantija (Copyright - Heritage Malta - Daniel Cilia)Archaeological discoveries are not only made in main sites. Nearby locations could be as significant for further revelations. The remains of a carinated clay offering bowl was recovered during investigations in the North Cave at the megalithic site of Ġgantija. Decorated with coloured scratched volutes, this bowl must have been considered sacred enough so as not to be casually scattered. It would be so intriguing to know in which rituals it was used.

    These are only a few of the engaging narratives which form part of the collection of fifty artefacts in Heritage Malta’s latest publication “Malta’s Prehistoric Treasures”.

    Skillfully chosen from the National Collection by the renowned late archaeologist Dr. David Trump, the artefacts are intended to accompany the readers along a personal journey in Maltese prehistory which fascinated him so much.

    Book coverThis makes the book even more significant since the selected artefacts are not only allowing the readers to learn about the local prehistoric people but also to see through the eyes of a very inspirational archaeologist.

    The book has an additional narrative by Heritage Malta Senior Curator, Sharon Sultana.

    Photography and design by Daniel Cilia.

    Malta’s Prehistoric Treasures is available from Heritage Malta sites and museums.

    For more information, visit

    (This feature was published in The Times of Malta issued on 30th December 2019)

    2019.12.30 / no responses / Category: Times of Malta

  • THE SICILIAN CONNECTION – Archaeotur Project

    A scene of Ragusa IblaThough many Maltese tend to perceive their archipelago as a solitary group of islands in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea, the nearby island Sicily has always been closely present both geographically and often historically. The Archaeotur project aims to enhance the rediscovery of the archaeological and cultural identities of both islands, particularly by setting up a set of heritage trails which link a number of renowned sites together with other interesting locations that are presently found off the usual beaten tourist track.

    On crisp clear nights, some Sicilians search out for Malta’s twinkling lights across the separating sea known as the channel of Malta. Similarly during a fine limpid day, the area of Mount Etna is distinctly visible from Mdina. One may thus wonder how the ancient populations of these islands might have regarded this ‘nearness’ and what they might have shared. The Archaeotur project focuses on these similarities but also on the differences which vividly portray an affinity but no less a diversity between the two places, thereby enticingly creating a new world to discover just a few kilometres away.

    During the seminars at Auditorium San Vincenzo Ferreri in Ragusa IblaDuring last April, a group of Maltese experts in archaeology and in cultural tourism, together with a number of local university students, attended a three-day seminar that was held at the Auditorium San Vincenzo Ferreri in Ragusa Ibla. The Maltese and Sicilian counterparts discussed the plans of the Archaeotur project, gave detailed descriptions of some of the concerned archaeological sites and the findings discovered within, and shared information and ideas about what has been done so far and what work still needs to be tackled so that these sites are conserved and presented in the most professional way to all the visitors.

    Narrow alleys - Ragusa IblaResiding in a small hotel in Ragusa Ibla, the Maltese participants could indulge in the historical aura of the oldest part of this town. Narrow alleys with speeding motorini and compact vans running through them led to some impressive medieval buildings and baroque palaces. Interestingly much of this area had to be rebuilt after a very strong earthquake hit Ragusa on the 11th January 1693, killing about 5000 people and destroying many remarkable buildings such as a castle, palaces, churches, and many houses. After this catastrophe, some survivors in Ragusa wanted to rebuild the destroyed part of the town in the same place whilst others preferred to build their residences in another area, thereby creating two facets of this town which eventually became known as the old and the modern Ragusa. Three bridges which connect the older part to the new part of the town have inspired people to identify Ragusa as the city of bridges. These bridges provide a stunning view of this historical town, its buildings huddled closely together, as if clinging for life to the strong high precipice. In the last years, the old centre has been revived again with the opening of a number of shops, bars, restaurants and hotels. Indeed, Ragusa’s distinguished Sicilian character has attracted many photographers and film producers, the latest of which being the popular Italian TV series of ‘Il Commissario Montalbano’.

    Grotta delle Trabacche - Ragusa The seminars’ participants were also given the opportunity to visit some of the locations that are included in the Archaeotur project in order to understand better the significance and value of this endeavor. One of the most outstanding was certainly the catacomb of the Grotta delle Trabacche in Ragusa. Recently, this catacomb has been thoroughly cleaned out and conserved, and information posts have been placed in the vicinity in order to guide those visiting this site. Two central opulent and monumental tombs within this catacomb indicate that two individuals who had some importance or a form of authority in their society were buried there. Moreover, one finds several other common tombs that were dug out of the walls and floors of the cavern.

    At one with nature in Cava CeloneIronically although hypogea and catacombs are directly connected with death, these sites tend also to provide crucial information about the life and the rituals of the living individuals who used these places. Therefore for example, a multitude of catacombs that are present in Cava Celone might be expressing the situation of an increasing population. These archaeological sites are magnificently enfolded within a wide valley full of wild vegetation, thus endowing the experience of visiting them with a sense of adventure; the silence reigning within the valley allows one to feel truly at one with nature. Meanwhile, the visit to three catacombs in this location revealed the work that still needs to be done on these archaeological sites, including cleaning, conserving, and planning a more practical path which the visitors could use for easy access.

    Artefact in the Regional Museum of CamarinaA visit to the Regional Museum of Camarina was undoubtedly distinctive especially because of the extraordinary display of a multitude of findings that were discovered both on land and under the sea of the Santa Croce Camarina area. Many of the artefacts discovered on land pertain to burial rites. Some of them are so refined that it is believed that they belonged to a Greek aristocracy who had immigrated to this area. On the other hand, the numerous objects that were recovered from several wrecks in the bay of Camarina demonstrate that many commercial ships passed through this zone. Among the prestigious exhibits, one finds a bronze archaic helmet that was recovered from a relic that lay seven metres under the sea in front of Punta Braccetto. Several amphorae, a classical Attic-Etruscan helmet, seventy-three clay lamps and some silver items were retrieved from two other relics that were buried in the middle of the bay. Likewise, in 1991, a huge storm revealed the treasure trove of a hoard of 6000 coins that was buried only 200 metres away from the coast.

    Artefacts in the Regional Museum of Camarina (2)Undeniably, the participants in this seminar had a good taste of the potential of these Sicilian sites that are included in the project of Archaeotur. In the first week of September, a second seminar, this time organized in Malta, will once again reunite Maltese and Sicilian experts and participants so that they can evaluate the work that has been done so far and also to visit some of the Maltese sites which form part of the Archaeotur project.

    No doubt this EU project is proving of great benefit towards cross-border cooperation in the sector of heritage conservation and interpretation and no less to cultural tourism which is certainly of substantial benefit to both territories.

    Archaeotur is a 1.37 million euro project which is co-financed under the Italia-Malta Programme Cohesion Policy 2007 – 2013 and is part-financed by the EU European Regional Development Fund. The partners involved within it are: Mosta and Rabat Local Councils, Heritage Malta, Malta Tourism Authority, the Comune of Ragusa and the Comune of Santa Croce Camarina, the Superintendence of BB.CC.AA Ragusa, the Archaeological Park of Camarina, and Giritravel SRL. The main purpose of this project is to conserve, interpret and market a number of archaeological sites which generally consist of hypogea and catacombs across the Maltese and Italian borders such as: Ta’ Bistra (Mosta), St Augustine (Rabat), Trabacche, Cava Celone, Cisternazzi and Donnafugata (Ragusa), and Mezzagnone, Pirrera and Mirio (Santa Croce Camarina).

    Further information about the Archaeotur project may be obtained through the website or by contacting Archaeotur Curator, Glen Farrugia, on

    (Note: An edited version of this article was published on FIRST magazine Issue September 2012).

    2012.09.09 / no responses / Category: Malta Independent on Sunday - First magazine


    Dil-ġimgħa f’gazzetta lokali qrajt illi madwar 800,000 viżitatur fis-sena jżuru s-sit ta’ Stonehenge u jħallu warajhom madwar 6 miljun lira sterlina. Meta tqis illi n-nefqa Imnajdra - Maltakapitali biex jieħdu ħsieb dal-post hija ta’ 2.4 miljun lira sterlina fis-sena, tifhem sewwa x’valur għandu sit arkeoloġiku bħal dan għall-ekonomija tal-pajjiż. Awtomatikament ħsiebi jmur fuq is-siti arkeoloġiċi tagħna li wħud minnhom huma ferm eqdem u uniċi minn dal-post fl-Ingilterra u allura naturalment nistaqsi l-għala aħna ma jkollnix l-istess riżultati? Bil-kwantità ta’ mużewijiet u siti li għandna f’dawn il-gżejjer nippretendi li l-problema maġġuri tagħna tkun fejn ser inqiegħdu lit-turisti kollha li jkunu jridu jiġu jżuruhom u mhux kif ser niġbduhom lejn pajjiżna! Barra minn hekk nitħasseb sewwa meta nara illi f’ċertu nħawi importanti bħal per eżempju fis-sit f’Tas-Silġ f’Marsaxlokk lanqas biss nistgħu nirfsu aħna l-Maltin, aħseb u ara kemm nistgħu nilqgħu fihom lit-turisti.

    Għal din il-ġimgħa tkellimt mal-kap tad-dipartiment tal-Klassiċi u l-Arkeoloġija, Prof. Anthony Bonanno biex nifhem aħjar kif inhi s-sitwazzjoni arkeoloġika ta’ pajjiżna. Waqt id-diskussjoni tagħna sikwit ħareġ illi lokalment f’dan is-settur għadha teżisti taqtiegħa kontinwa biex aħna l-Maltin nasserixxu ruħna u nieħdu r-riedni tal-pajjiż f’idejna. Beda billi spjegali t-triq li għadda minnha hu stess sabiex eventwalment introduċa l-istudju tal-arkeoloġija fl-Università ta’ Malta.

    “Kienet ħaġa stramba kif f’pajjiż b’din ir-rikkezza kollha arkeoloġika qatt ma kellna t-tagħlim tal-arkeoloġija fl-Università ta’ Malta. Infatti waqt preżentazzjoni li attendejt għaliha dan l-aħħar, Dr Nicholas Prof. Anthony BonannoC Vella semma’ illi għal ftit xhur fis-sena 1939, il-professur Ingliż John Bryan Ward-Perkins kien appuntat bħala professur tal-arkeoloġija probabbilment bħala risposta politika Ingliża għal xogħol importanti ħafna li kien wettaq xi żmien qabel, ċertu arkeologu Taljan, L M Ugolini. Minħabba l-kwistjoni tal-faxxiżmu u x-xamma tat-tieni gwerra dinjija, dan l-arkeologu Taljan ma kienx tħalla jagħmel skavi. Iżda minflok huwa ngħata permess biex jiġbed ir-ritratti tal-fdalijiet kollha preistoriċi li kienu nstabu sa dak iż-żmien. Huwa ppubblika dawn ir-ritratti fi ktieb li semmieh ‘Malta origine della civiltà Mediterranea’ u bih qajjem reazzjoni kbira fil-qasam arkeoloġiku peress illi f’dawk is-snin kien hemm it-twemmin li kollox kien beda mill-orjent. Ward-Perkins dam biss ftit xhur hawn Malta għax fl-1939 faqqgħet il-gwerra u kellu jitlaq biex jissieħeb fl-armata.

    Fil-fatt it-tagħlim tal-arkeoloġija f’pajjiżna huwa pjuttost riċenti u jmur lura għall-1987. F’dik is-sena jiena kont ġejt appuntat bħala kap tad-Dipartiment tal-Klassiċi u ġew ikellmuni żewġ studenti li kienu għażlu l-Istorja u ssuġġerewli biex nintroduċi t-tagħlim fl-arkeoloġija. Nistqarr li l-idea kienet ilha tbherren f’moħħi u għalhekk rajt kif għamilt biex niġbor numru ta’ esperti ħalli flimkien magħhom infassal dan il-kors. Ftit ftit irnexxieli niġbor numru biżżejjed ta’ professjonisti biex jgħallmu d-diversi aspetti tal-arkeoloġija. Min-naħa tiegħi irrealizzajt li ma stajtx nibqa’ nillimita ruħi għall-arkeoloġija klassika li kont speċjalizzajt fiha u għalhekk iddeċidejt li ngħallem ukoll dwar l-aspett tal-preistorja ta’ Malta u kif ukoll dwar dik ġenerali sabiex nifirxu aktar dan il-kors. B’hekk, ma’ l-ewwel sena akkademika bħala kap tad-dipartiment, daħħalt għall-ewwel darba l-istudju tal-arkeoloġija fl-università tagħna. Bdejna proprju b’dawk iż-żewġ studenti u dawn gradwaw fl-1990. Interessanti li nsemmi li wieħed minnhom ma kien ħadd għajr Anthony Pace li llum huwa s-Superintendent għall-Wirt Kulturali.”

    Minn dak iż-żmien ‘l hawn is-sitwazzjoni nbidlet ħafna u numru dejjem jikber ta’ studenti qegħdin jersqu biex jitħarrġu f’dan is-suġġett.

    “Huwa sabiħ li tara l-interess jiżdied f’dan is-suġġett, għalkemm maż-żmien proprju minħabba l-ammont kbir ta’ studenti, kellna nbiddlu s-sistema tal-kors u dan naqqas kemmxejn mill-ħin tal-parteċipazzjoni tagħhom waqt il-lectures. F’dawn l-aħħar snin ġeneralment jiggradwaw madwar 10 studenti kull sena fl-arkeoloġija u nħossni ferm kburi u kuntent b’dan ir-riżultat.”

    Iżda dawn l-istudenti li jiggradwaw fl-Arkeoloġija, isibu opportunità ta’ xogħol f’dan il-qasam?

    “Dik tkun id-dilemma tiegħi meta fl-ewwel sena tal-kors ikolli naffaċċja madwar tletin student ġdid. Huwa għalhekk illi ngħidilhom li dan is-suġġett mhux bilfors ser jiftħilhom bieb għal xogħol fis-settur Skavar f'Għar ix-Xiħ Għawdexarkeoloġiku. Bħal kull suġġett ieħor fil-Fakultà tal-Arti, l-għan prinċipali tal-istudju tal-arkeoloġija huwa illi l-istudent jitrawwem tajjeb dwar kif jixtarr l-informazzjoni biex finalment ikun jista’ jasal għal konklużjoni indipendenti. U proprju biex niftħulu aktar triqat, waqt il-kors tal-Arkeoloġija, l-istudent jitħarreġ ukoll f’kapaċitajiet varji bħal ngħidu aħna f’ħiliet fit-tpinġija dettaljata, fil-qari u l-bini ta’ mapep u fil-fotografija.

    B’danakollu ma rridx nagħti x’nifhem illi min jiggradwa f’dan is-suġġett m’għandux il-possibilità li jaħdem f’dan il-qasam. Anzi! F’dawn l-aħħar snin rajt ħafna mill-istudenti li gradwaw fl-Arkeoloġija jsiru għalliema, kuraturi, jaħdmu ma’ Heritage Malta fil-qasam tas-Supretendenza tal-Wirt Kulturali, jiffurmaw kumpaniji speċjalizzati f’das-settur u saħansitra student minnhom, Dr Nicholas C. Vella, illum huwa wieħed mis-Senior Lecturers tad-dipartiment.”

    Probabbilment din l-attitudni kawta hija riżultat tal-fatt illi Prof. Bonanno kellu jimxi triq twila ferm sakemm wasal fejn hu llum. Fatt kurjuż li sirt naf waqt din l-intervista kien illi oriġinarjament hu qatt ma basar li xi darba għad isir arkeologu.

    “Naħseb li jiena kont tifel bħal ħafna tfal Maltin tipiċi, imwieled u mrobbi f’wieħed mill-irħula tagħna, iż-Żejtun. F’dak iż-żmien qatt ma kont nikkonċepixxi xi ħajja akkademika, aħseb u ara xi speċjalizzazzjoni fl-arkeoloġija! Però fl-età bejn 10 u 20 sena, kont nattendi l-Azzjoni Kattolika u l-qassis li kien jgħallimna kien iġibilna regolarment xi films mill-British Council li kienu jitrattaw suġġetti varji bħal l-ambjent u l-arkeoloġija. Minn dawn, l-aktar li baqgħuli f’moħħi kienu x-xeni ta’ campus universitarji barranin bħall-Università ta’ Oxford u naħseb li bil-mod il-mod, dawk ix-xeni daħlu f’moħħi u ħolquli dik l-aspirazzjoni li xi darba mmur nistudja f’xi pajjiż ieħor.

    Sadanittant meta ġejt biex nagħżel lingwa bejn il-Latin u l-Franċiż, iddeċidejt li nagħżel tal-aħħar. Biss, meta mort biex nidħol l-università sibt ruħi lampa stampa. Xtaqt ħafna nidħol fil-qasam tax-xjenza għax minn dejjem kelli daqsxejn orjentament matematiku u xjentifiku imma ma kellix suġġetti biżżejjed biex napplika. Daqstant ieħor ma stajtx nagħżel li nidħol għall-liġi peress li ma kontx studjajt il-Latin. Iżda imbagħad fortunatament tawni ċ-ċans li nitħarreġ f’din il-lingwa u b’hekk xorta waħda stajt nidħol bħala student każwali fil-qasam tal-arti fl-università.  Biż-żmien għaraft napprezzah ħafna l-Latin u fil-fatt tant mort tajjeb fl-eżamijiet illi l-professur tiegħi ssuġġerili li nkompli dan is-suġġett għal BA Hons u hekk għamilt.

    Iżda għalkemm il-Latin kien sar jogħġobni ħafna, bdejt nintebaħ illi dil-lingwa kienet qed tispiċċa speċjalment meta din ma baqgħetx il-lingwa tal-Knisja. Għalhekk deherli li kien ikun aħjar li nagħżel ambizzjoni ulterjuri u nkompli l-istudji tiegħi f’xi kamp li hu ġdid għal Malta. Kien hawn li tfajt għajnejja fuq l-arkeoloġija u ovvjament iffukajt fuq l-arkeoloġija klassika sabiex inkun nista’ nirrendi l-istudji li kont diġà wettaqt, aktar konkreti.”

    Prof. Bonanno fissirli kif permezz ta’ scholarship huwa kompla l-istudji tiegħu għal dottorat fl-Università ta’ Palermo u wara hu ntagħżel biex jaħdem bħala lecturer fl-Università ta’ Malta bil-kundizzjoni li jkompli jispeċjalizza biex iġib il- Ph.D.

    “Did-darba għażilt li nagħmel l-istudji tiegħi f’università f’Londra ħalli b’hekk nesponi lili nnifsi wkoll għall-ħsieb Ingliż. Nistqarr li wara li kont drajt l-orjentament Taljan, kważi ħadt xokk meta ġejt affaċċjat b’dak Ingliż. Prinċipalment id-differenza kienet illi t-Taljani jitkellmu b’dik iċ-ċertezza dwar xi ħaġa, mentri l-Ingliżi jirreferu għal xi ħaġa li probabbilment kienet hekk, li aktarx kienet hekk eċċ eċċ.

    Għad-dottorat Taljan kont għamilt teżi dwar l-iskultura Griega u Rumana li kien hawn f’ħafna kollezzjonijiet f’Malta, fejn kont eżaminajt madwar 90 biċċa li jibdew minn frammenti żgħar għal statwi sħaħ. Kien eżerċizzju tajjeb ħafna għalija għalkemm għadni qatt ma ppubblikajtu. Issa li għaddew tant snin biex nippubblika x-xogħol tiegħi jkolli bżonn nerġa’ nagħmel dak l-istudju minħabba li llum tant żviluppaw l-affarijiet li anki l-interpretazzjoni tiegħi nbidlet. Dan l-istudju ppreżentajtu f’teżi li qiegħda l-Melitensia imma l-quddiem għandi ħsieb li noħroġ din l-informazzjoni biċċa biċċa f’forma ta’ artikli f’xi magazin.

    Meta mort l-Ingilterra għażilt li naħdem fuq ir-ritrattistika (statwi) uffiċċjali fil-basso riljiev li kien joħroġ l-istat Ruman, l-ewwel fir-repubblika imbagħad fl-imperu sabiex jikkomemmoraw episodji storiċi.”

    Filwaqt li permezz ta’ dawn l-istudji f’pajjiżi oħra Prof. Bonanno kien qata’ xewqtu li jesperjenza campus universitarji barranin, hu saħaq kemm hija importanti li wieħed jesponi ruħu għall-ideat ta’ pajjiżi oħra.

    “Jiena nemmen li kull student Malti għandu jagħti din l-opportunità lilu nnifsu, dik li l-ewwel jidħol fil-fond fuq suġġett li mhux Malti biex wara jmur lura f’pajjiżu u japplika dak li jkun tgħallem. Fl-opinjoni tiegħi jekk wieħed jaħdem mill-ewwel fuq suġġett Malti jagħlaq lilu nnifsu, mentri jekk jistudja barra fuq suġġett iktar vast, jiftaħ moħħu aktar minħabba li f’pajjiżi oħra teżisti firxa aktar wiesgħa ta’ possibilitajiet.”

    Id-diskors reġa’ ħadna lura fi żmien meta jekk ridt tistudja l-arkeoloġija, ridt bilfors issiefer f’pajjiż ieħor. Imma kelli kurżità jekk f’dawk is-snin, in-nies kienetx tapprezza l-arkeoloġija lokali?

    “L-arkeoloġija kienet apprezzata imma għall-benefiċċju ta’ ċertu livell ta’ soċjetà. Ħadd ma kien jipprova jeduka lill-poplu biex jagħraf u jieħu ħsieb dal-wirt kulturali tiegħu. Ħlief Temi Zammit li apparti l-kapaċitajiet l-oħra kollha tiegħu kien ukoll kittieb tajjeb ħafna u permezz ta’ ġabriet qosra ta’ kitbiet informattivi huwa kien għen biex jinforma u jħabbeb lill-poplu ma’ dan il-qasam.”

    Tlabtu jgħidli fejn għamel l-ewwel skavi tiegħu u kemm jaħseb li hu importanti illi min qed jistudja l-arkeoloġija jipparteċipa f’tip ta’ eżerċizzju bħal dan?

    “L-ewwel skavi li għamilt kienu waqt li kont qed nistudja f’Palermo fejn kelli ċ-ċans li niskava f’belt antika fi Sqallija li kienet inqerdet mill-Kartaġiniżi fis-sena 395QK u kienet magħrufa bħala Himera. It-tempju tal-Vittorja f'HimeraGħalkemm l-iskavi ma jkunux obbligatorji waqt l-istudju tal-arkeoloġija, jiena naħseb illi degree fl-arkeoloġija mingħajr esperjenza ta’ skavi tista’ titqies bħala difettuża.”

    Naturalment Prof. Bonanno ħa sehem ukoll f’diversi skavi f’pajjiżna fosthom fil-Brockdorff Circle fix-Xagħra Għawdex, f’Tas-Silġ, fil-Villa Rumana taż-Żejtun u f’Għar ix-Xiħ f’Imġarr ix-Xini f’Għawdex. Madanakollu waqt id-diskursata ħareġ illi xi drabi mhux la kemm tippjana li ser tiskava x’imkien…

    “Ngħidu aħna meta ġejna biex inħaffru f’Tas-Silġ sibna illi l-aqwa partijiet tas-sit kienu diġà ġew allokati biex jiġu skavati minn grupp Taljan. Biex tgħaqqad l-ewwel applikazzjoni li għamilna fl-1995 ġiet irriffjutata peress li l-ministru responsabbli f’dak iż-żmien ingħata l-parir li minħabba li s-sit kien imwiegħed lill-barranin, kien ikun aħjar li aħna l-Maltin ma nitħallewx niskavaw! Niftakar li r-rettur, Fr Peter Serracino Inglott kien bagħat ittra iebsa lill-ministru u ftit wara tħallejna niskavaw. Xorta waħda l-partijiet li ġejna offruti kienu minimi – tliet trinek imdaqqsa biss. Iżda aħna xorta ppersistejna u użajna s-sit biex inħarrġu lill-istudenti tagħna kif jaħdmu bl-aħjar mod xjentifiku filwaqt li esponejnihom għall-mod reali ta’ kif isir skav.”

    Sfortunatament minn kliem il-professur donni fhimt li l-poplu tagħna għadu ma neżax għal kollox mill-influwenza kolonjali. Għajb għalina meta l-barrani jiġi ppreferut mill-Malti u mbagħad meta l-Malti qiegħed f’artu u huwa professjonist fil-qasam!

    “Meta mmur fuq ċertu siti arkeoloġiċi lokali li fuqhom ikunu qed jaħdmu l-barranin, apparti li jkun hemm bżonn il-permessi biex nidħol, mhux darba u tnejn li niġi trattat bħala ‘mistieden’ u bħallikieku qed jagħmluli xi pjaċir għax qed idawwruni mas-sit u juruni x’qed jagħmlu!

    Dan l-aħħar kelli wkoll xi diżgwid minħabba li l-persuna barranija li kienet skavat il-Brockdorff Circle xi snin ilu talbet madwar 1.25 miljun lira sterlina lil fondazzjoni Ingliża sabiex tkompli tiskava s-sit bil-pjan li f’sena prattikament tiżvujtah għal kollox. Jiena kont wieħed minn dawk li rreżistejt ħaġa bħal din għax l-ewwel nett nemmen illi meta jsiru skavi bħal dawn f’pajjiżna, għalkemm għandna nilqgħu l-għajnuna mill-barrani bil-qalb kollha, aħna l-Maltin għandna nkunu qed naħdmu magħhom bi sħab, fuq l-istess livell u b’rispett reċiproku. Imma apparti minn hekk, jiena ma naqbilx li sit għandu jiġi skavat kollu kemm hu. Sadanittant dax-xogħol ma sarx għax it-talba għall-flus ma ġietx aċċettata.”

    Prof. Bonanno sostna kemm hija kruċjali li tħalli parti minn sit mhux mimsusa sabiex din tiġi mgħoddija għall-investigazzjoni mill-ġenerazzjonijiet ta’ warajna.

    “Ejja nieħdu l-eżempju ta’ Għar Dalam li ġie skavat fis-seklu 19 u fil-bidu tas-seklu 20. Illum meta naqraw ir-rapporti li saru dwar l-iskavar ta’ dan is-sit insibu li dawn  huma difettużi ħafna għax ovvjament Għar Dalam - Maltaissa għandna ħafna aktar mezzi u informazzjoni. U ċertament għad jiġi żmien meta l-ġenerazzjonijiet ta’ warajna ser ikollhom teknoloġija ħafna aħjar minn tagħna. Issa f’Għar Dalam fadal biss roqgħa ċkejkna mmens li għadha mhiex skavata u allura jiena ma nimmaġinax li xi ħadd jista’ jmissha jekk ma jnaddafx il-ħajt kollu tal-madwar u jieħu kampjuni tal-pollinu li jsib.

    Biex nagħtik eżempju ieħor nista’ nsemmilek xi rqajja ta’ ħamrija miżgħuda bi fdalijiet umani li tħallew apposta ġol-Hypogeum b’dan l-istess għan li jiġu studjati fil-futur.”

    Kont kurjuża jekk matul dawn is-snin kollha jaħdem f’dan il-qasam, hu kienx qatt sab xi oġġett ta’ valur waqt l-iskavi?

    “Għad hemm ċertu pajjiżi fejn għadu jeżisti dak l-element ta’ avventura u ta’ skoperti ta’ teżori, bħal ngħidu aħna fl-Eġittu. Naf ħafna bħali li jgħiru għal arkeologi li jaħdmu fl-Eġittu bħal Zahi Hawass li kapaċi jsib xi nekropoli sħiħa! Imma fir-realtà illum l-arkeoloġija hija xjenza u xi skoperta ta’ dan it-tip hija pjuttost rari u għalhekk apprezzata ferm. Waqt li kont qed niskava f’Benghazi kont kuntent ħafna meta rnexxielna niskopru l-bidu ta’ mużajk Ruman. Nixtieq li xi darba insib xi biċċa statwa jew inkella xi biċċa vażun li għandu xena sħiħa mpinġija fuqu! Min-naħa l-oħra x-xorti daħket mhux ħażin lil grupp ta’ studenti li kienu qed jiskavaw miegħi fi Brockdorff Circle meta dawn sabu numru kbir ta’ skulturi u wieħed minnhom saħansitra sab sitt figurini flimkien.”

    Staqsejtu liema fl-opinjoni tiegħu huwa l-aktar sit arkeoloġiku ta’ valur f’pajjiżna?

    “Naħseb li kulħadd jaqbel li l-aktar sit arkeoloġiku ta’ importanza f’pajjiżna, anki minħabba li huwa uniku, bla dubju huwa l-Ipoġew ta’ Ħal-Saflieni. Anzi nasal biex ngħid li l-valur tiegħu jkompli jiżdied Hypogeum - Maltajekk tikkomparah f’dik li hija x-xena internazzjonali. Tempji ssib diversi madwar id-dinja imma monument bħall-Ipoġew huwa uniku, kemm minħabba li huwa daqstant estetikament pjaċevoli u anki għar-raġuni li apparti li l-arkitettura tiegħu hija meraviljuża, minnu ħarġu wkoll numru ta’ affarijiet artistiċi.”

    L-aktar pajjiżi barranin li jaffaxxinawh għall-arkeoloġija tagħhom huma l-Italja u l-Eġittu. U għalkemm dar diversi siti arkeoloġiċi madwar id-dinja, jixtieq ħafna jżur l-arkeoloġija tal-Perù. Ta’ min isemmi wkoll illi dan l-aħħar il-Prof. Bonanno irċieva żewġ unuri mprezzabbli minn żewġ pajjiżi barranin.

    “Meta ġejt mgħarraf li ngħatajt l-unur bħala Corresponding Member tal-German Archaeological Institute ħassejt sodisfazzjon kbir speċjalment minħabba li minn dejjem xtaqt ninvolvi lill-Ġermaniżi f’xi skavi tagħna peress li għandhom teknoloġija serja ħafna. Apparti minn hekk apprezzajt ħafna wkoll il-privileġġ li jinvolvi unur bħal dan: l-ospitalità f’diversi biblijoteki mill-aqwa mxerrda f’diversi pajjiżi oħra.

    L-aħbar l-oħra waslet b’sorpriża f’Jannar li għadda, fejn did-darba l-Archaeological Institute of America infurmani li kien għażilni bħala Corresponding Member tagħhom ukoll. Apprezzajtu ferm dan l-unur li jingħata lill-arkeologi li jkunu ddistingwew ruħhom barra mill-Amerika u l-Kanada għax fil-lista ta’ dawk magħżula qabli hemm ċertu ismijiet famużi bħal dak ta’ Kristos Dumas u Zahi Hawass.”

    Tlabtu jsemmili liema mill-kitbiet tiegħu kienu l-aktar għal qalbu?

    “Bla dubju l-aħħar ktieb Malta: Phoenician, Punic, and Roman għax fih inkorporajt ħafna mill-ideat li kienu sparpaljati u fil-passat ħarġu individwalment f’artikli. Imbagħad hemm ukoll il-ktieb Il-Malta -Phoenician, Punic and RomanPreistorja li għalija kien ta’ sfida kbira minħabba t-termini bil-Malti imma deherli li kien dover tiegħi li nissodisfa ċertu bżonn tal-Maltin, espressa bil-lingwa Maltija.”

    F’egħluq l-intervista semmejna wkoll l-Archaeological Society li apparti li l-professur huwa wieħed mill-fundaturi tagħha, illum huwa anki l-president ta’ din is-soċjetà.

    “L-iskop prinċipali ta’ din is-soċjetà huwa li tippromwovi l-arkeoloġija ma’ kulħadd, anki ma’ min huwa dilettant. Regolarment norganizzaw numru ta’ lectures u site visits u kull min jixtieq jeduka ruħu f’dal-qasam huwa mistieden li jingħaqad magħna. Min ikollu bżonn aktar informazzjoni jista’ jikkuntattjana fuq l-email: .”

    Għalkemm forsi fil-films il-ħajja tal-arkeologu hija deskritta b’ħafna aktar kulur, issa li kelli l-opportunità li nintervista lil wieħed mill-aktar arkeologi rinomati f’pajjiżna, xtaqtu jgħidli jekk jaħsibx li wara kollox l-arkeoloġija tagħtux dik il-laqta insolita f’ħajtu?

    “Ċertament inti u tħaffer fl-art fl-isfond tal-għarfien tal-istudji tiegħek hemm dak l-element ta’ eċitament. U anki jekk ma ssib l-ebda oġġett tad-deheb, l-iskoperta u x-xogħolIl-Preistorja tiegħek huma ta’ valur għax qed jikkontribwixxu għax-xjenza. Jekk inħares lura nista’ ngħidlek li kienet karriera li tagħtni bosta sodisfazzjon u laqqgħatni ma’ nies kbar. Ħolqitli wkoll is-sodisfazzjon li nara l-formazzjoni tal-mentalità tal-istudenti li ġew fdati f’idejja u li narahom jirnexxu fl-istudji tagħhom.

    L-arkeoloġija ta’ pajjiżna hija parti minna, hija wirt tagħna. Ma naħsibx li kont inkun daqshekk kburi li jien Malti li kieku ma kellnix it-tempji neolitiċi jew l-Ipoġew. Anzi aktarx kieku kont inħossni daqsxejn inqas. Il-fatt li għandna dak il-wirt għalija jpoġġina fuq ċertu pedestall.”

    (Nota: Dan l-artiklu ġie ppubblikat fit-Torċa tat-8 ta’ Mejju 2011)

    2011.05.08 / no responses / Category: Torca - Perspettivi