Documenting activities for posterity has not always been possible, especially prior to the development of language. This limits understanding of certain time periods. Pre-history is one of them. Prof. Nicholas Vella, together with a team of research fellows, graduate and undergraduate students, is attempting to rectify this with the dig at the Kordin Temples in Paola.
The site, currently under Heritage Malta’s care, was first excavated in 1909. Different scientific techniques have developed since the original dig which will now give better insight into Malta’s prehistoric culture. The project has also given undergraduates the opportunity to excavate the area together with specialised researchers, learning new techniques in the field.
One side of the project sees 3D scans of the site being taken to develop a model that shows the change in environment over time, linking current views on prehistoric landscape and temple culture. During the dig itself, carbon dating can now be applied to the various items found. Among those are pottery, volcanic glass and bone.
While the artefacts might not seem like much to the untrained eye, within the context of the area they offer plenty of new information. The soil itself contains important clues. Organic remains like seed, shells, pollen and animal bone can give an indication on what type of activities were carried out in and around the temple. The excavations are yielding vast amounts of data, to the point where organising and refining it in order to piece it all together is difficult. That said, collaborative work is a strength within this team and this project, one that is certain to take us ever closer to revealing the story untold.
For more read the in-depth feature in Think magazine: www.um.edu.mt/think/digging-up-stories-untold