Research by our academics

Get a glimpse of the academic research carried out by members of our Department.

Dr Dennis Mizzi is currently completing a comprehensive, multi-volume monograph on the archaeology of Qumran in which he analyses in detail all aspects of the site, including its chronology, architecture, and material assemblages (i.e., pottery, glass and chalkstone vessels, metal artefacts, small finds, coins, animal bones), the surrounding caves and adjacent cemeteries, as well as the Dead Sea Scrolls as archaeological artefacts. His other research focuses on the Dead Sea Scrolls (with a particular focus on ritual purity), ancient synagogues, the archaeology of Roman and Byzantine Palestine, and ancient Jewish cultural interaction.

Prof. Anthony Frendo is currently finalising his work on the relationship between critical biblical scholarship and archaeological thought and practice. He plans to publish this work mainly with the aim of showing biblical scholars how to critically asses the news and reports that they get from archaeologists in the field, mainly underscoring the question “what was actually found?” The whole point is to help those interested in the Bible to realise that great caution has to be exercised when linking the information found in the Bible with that retrieved in the field.

Prof. Frendo is also working on a larger project on the Phoenician-Punic inscriptions from the Maltese Islands. His aim is to revisit these inscriptions with a special focus of investigating the meagre but real evidence that they can yield for verse and not simply prose. The results should lead to a better understanding and appreciation of the culture of the inhabitants of the Maltese archipelago during most of the first millennium BCE.

His other research focuses on Near Eastern Archaeology (mainly Ancient Israel), the Hebrew Bible, the methodological study of the relationship between text and artefact (with special reference to Pre-exilic Israel), Northwest Semitic Languages (with a focus on Classical Hebrew and Phoenician-Punic), and the Phoenician-Punic inscriptions from the Maltese Islands.

Prof. Martin Zammit’s research focuses on Semitic studies, with a focus on Qur’ānic Arabic and Syriac, Arabic philology in general and Arabic dialectology in particular. He is also the co-translator of the Qur’ān in the Maltese language and has also published a Syriac Reader.

Dr Kurstin Gatt’s main area of interest and expertise is the analysis of political discourse in the Arab world with a special focus on modern jihadist discourse of militant jihadist groups such as the so-called ‘Islamic State.’ His dissertation analysed a number of poetic exemplars and discursive strategies of domination exploited in the jihadist milieu, showing that poetry is a powerful medium of message transmission in militant jihadism and that it is exploited to legitimate brutality as virtue, concentrate bigotry, eulogise violence and give a veneer of truth to the jihadist worldview. This investigation supports the need for a broader analysis of jihadist discourse in all of its forms.

Dr Abigail Zammit is currently working on a monograph derived from her doctoral dissertation, entitled, 'The Lachish Letters: A Reappraisal of the Ostraca Discovered in 1935 and 1938 at Tell ed-Duweir,' presented to the University of Oxford in 2016 (available on open access). Her other research interests include Northwest Semitic epigraphy, palaeography, philology (including Palaeo-Hebrew, Phoenician-Punic, Aramaic, Moabite, Edomite), the Hebrew Bible, the archaeology of ancient Israel and the Levant, Phoenician-Punic archaeology, and Punico-Roman archaeology of the central and western Mediterranean.

Dr Salvatore Giuffré specialises in modern Western and East Asian languages and philology (Chinese and Japanese). His research interests include Chinese literature, comparative literature, romance philology, romanticism, literary modernism and aesthetics, and modern Japanese literature.

Ms Wei Chen is currently finishing her Ph.D. on Chinese linguistics. Her research interests include the history of Chinese linguistics, missionary linguistics (Chinese), and Classic Chinese literature.