The Malta Independent 21 May 2024, Tuesday
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Għar il-Kbir: Its place in Maltese history

Monday, 21 November 2016, 15:45 Last update: about 9 years ago

Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar is organising a talk -  Għar il-Kbir: Its Place in Maltese History - by Gordon E. Weston at Hilltop Gardens on Tuesday 22 November at 6.30pm. Refreshments will be served after the talk. Entrance €7. Please book online at to avoid disappointment. 

"There are many troglodytes in Malta. They dig caves and these are their homes." So wrote Jean Quintin d'Autun after his visit to the Maltese Islands in 1533. Indeed, a study of minor place names indicates there may have been around ninety natural or man-made caves that might have been used for domiciliary or religious-cult purposes. Għar Dalam (Birżebbuġa), aside, Għar il-Kbir(The Great Cave) in the limits of Dingli is by far the most well-known for its use over the centuries as a place of human habitation. Although the cave was in all probability originally a natural karst solution void, no trace of such origin remains today. In fact, what can be seen of Għar il-Kbirshows it to be a complex of rock-cut (man-made) interconnecting caves.


Regrettably, the Great Cave has not as yet received archaeological attention, so, in contrast to Għar Dalam, we have no idea if the cave was used for shelter by prehistoric people. Nevertheless, there is strong circumstantial evidence suggesting use of the cave, at least in part, during very early historic times. Għar il-Kbir has received in recent times a considerable amount of attention from leading Maltese scholars, and it is thanks to their efforts that we know a lot about the cave and those who frequented it during the early modern period.           Gordon E. Weston, author of The Maltese Cart-Ruts: Unraveling and Enigma and Clapham Junction - 3000 Years of Maltese Heritage, will be drawing on the work of many scholars to present a synthesis of many different strands of thought about this mysterious place, looking at the socio-economic realities of life in this cave over the centuries.

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