The Malta Independent 13 August 2022, Saturday

Exhibition delves into materials and techniques of prehistoric pottery-making

Friday, 24 June 2022, 12:01 Last update: about 3 months ago

An exhibition presenting the results of a scientific investigation of materials and techniques used in pottery-making during Maltese prehistory is now open at the National Museum of Archaeology.

The investigation was conducted as part of the Maltapot project, with the aim of shedding further light on the networks and transfer of techniques between the Maltese Islands and overseas during the Għar Dalam, Skorba and Żebbuġ phases of prehistory. The research was carried out by the Department of Classics and Archaeology of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Malta, with the support of the National Museum of Archaeology and the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement.


The objectives of the project included determining the nature of materials used in Maltese prehistoric pottery and identifying their source, in order to answer the research question "were the pots from this period of Maltese prehistory fabricated locally, or were they brought to the islands by the immigrants who settled here?" Several material characterisation and analytical methods were employed by researchers to find answers to this question.

The exhibition, which runs until the end of August, was inaugurated by Owen Bonnici, Minister for the National Heritage, the Arts and Local Government. Dr Bonnici said that such exhibitions fulfil a very important function: that of interpreting our rich history and communicating it to visitors. The prehistoric period attracts considerable interest and this provides added value to all those visiting our islands.

Heritage Malta's chairman, Mario Cutajar, commended such research collaborations as they probe into our distant past in search of answers to questions which are important in developing an understanding of early island communities that inhabited Malta. These answers shed light on Malta's wider networks beyond our shores in prehistory.

He added that pottery gives us a tangible connection with Malta's prehistoric peoples. The Maltapot exhibition goes a step further, providing scientific insight into the chemical composition of the clay pots used thousands of years ago, determined by firing temperatures, the quality of the clay and tempering techniques. This exhibition truly embodies the fascinating results of the merging of archaeology, anthropolgy and science in their common quest to find answers to centuries-old questions, said Cutajar.

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