Research projects

A team of international scholars is currently investigating the remains of a late Roman synagogue at Huqoq, in Israel’s Lower Galilee. The main aim of the project is to date the building on the basis of scientific excavation with a view to contributing new data to the current scholarly debate on the dating of ancient monumental synagogues. Excavations at the site have also unearthed unique and well-preserved mosaic pavements depicting various biblical and non-biblical scenes.

The project’s results shed important new light on Jewish daily life and Jewish communities in the late Roman and Byzantine periods, and they have ramifications for the study of Jewish-Christian relationships in antiquity. In addition, our work is also bringing to light a monumental medieval structure, which is providing us with new information on medieval Jewry in Palestine, about which very little is known. The Huqoq Excavation project is directed by Prof. Jodi Magness (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), with the assistance of Dr Dennis Mizzi (University of Malta).

For more information, visit the project’s website.

This project is investigating the remains of a Galilean workshop from the Roman period in which Jewish chalkstone vessels were produced. These vessels, which circulated widely and only among Jews in Palestine, were connected with Jewish purity practices. The aim of the project is to excavate and document this workshop in order to learn more about the production of these vessels and determine when their production ceased. The results have important implications for our understanding of Jewish daily life in Roman Galilee. Excavations at the site have now concluded, and the publication of the final report is in process. The project is directed by Dr Yonatan Adler (Ariel University, Israel), with the assistance of Dr Dennis Mizzi (University of Malta).

The network for the Dispersed Qumran Caves Artefacts and Archival Sources is a collaboration between Prof. Joan Taylor (King’s College London), Prof. Marcello Fidanzio (ISCAB, Lugano), and Dr Dennis Mizzi (University of Malta). Its aim is to gather and analyse material pertaining to the Qumran caves that has been dispersed in museums and collections around the world. The importance of these caves stems from their association with the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are among the most important archaeological discoveries of the twentieth century.

The team studies artefacts (e.g., pottery, textiles, leathers, and wooden remains) as well as written and photographic dossiers of people who visited or investigated the caves between the 1950s and 1970s. The aim is to bring to light new data about the Qumran caves in the hope that these could help scholars reconstruct the material profiles of the respective caves in more detail. Between 2016 and 2019, the project was funded by the Leverhulme Trust.

For more information, visit the project’s website..

This is a project run by the Department of Classics and Archaeology. Its goals are to document the archaeological remains unearthed in excavations carried out in the 1960s and 1970s and to open new areas for excavation. The project is shedding new light on the rural Maltese landscape in the Punic and Roman periods. Dr Abigail Zammit and Dr Dennis Mizzi, both of the Department of Oriental Studies, contribute to this project.

MINSEL is an ongoing project within the Department of Oriental Studies consisting of a digital etymological database of lexemes of Arabic origin in the Maltese language. This etymological platform is hosted by Ġabra: An Open Lexicon for Maltese. Once this online platform is launched, it will contribute towards the study of the Maltese lexicon within the wider context of the dialects of Arabic.

Prof. Martin R. Zammit is the co-ordinator of the MINSEL project, aided by Dr Kurstin Gatt, lecturer in the department. A number of alumni have also contributed towards this project. The initial stages of this project have been presented at the fifth and sixth international conferences of the Għaqda Internazzjonali tal-Lingwistika Maltija (International Association of Maltese Linguistics) convened in Turin (2015) and Bratislava (2017).

This project, under the supervision of Prof. Martin R. Zammit, aims at providing a historical context to a hoard consisting of 208 coins exhibited at the Mater Ecclesiae Museum of the parish church of Għarb, in Gozo. The hoard was discovered by the sexton behind a recessed stone cupboard in the sacristy. The provenance of the coins is mostly North African. A historian and numismatic experts are collaborating on this project. The results of this project should be available during 2020.