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Title: Excavations at Tas-Silg, Malta : a preliminary report on the 1996-1998 campaigns conducted by the Department of Classics and Archaeology of the University of Malta
Authors: Bonanno, Anthony
Frendo, Anthony J.
Vella, Nicholas C.
Keywords: Excavations (Archaeology) -- Malta
Malta -- Antiquities
Tas-Silg complex (Marsaxlokk, Malta)
Archaeology -- Malta
Antiquities, Prehistoric -- Malta
Malta -- History -- To 870
Issue Date: 2000
Publisher: Mediterranean Archaeology
Citation: Bonanno, A., Frendo, A. J., Vella, N. C., Mason, S., Sagona, C., Farrugia, R., Borda, K., Zammit, E. M., Stöger, H., Galea, M., Schembri, P.J., Falzon, A., Fenech, K., Sant, M.J., Corrado, A. & Hunt, C. O. (2000). Excavations at tas-Silg, Malta: a preliminary report on the 1996–1998 campaigns conducted by the department of classics and archaeology of the University of Malta. Mediterranean Archaeology, 13, 67-114.
Abstract: The area known as Tas-Silg is situated in the south-eastern part of the island of Malta, close to Marsaxlokk harbour. In reality the place name refers to the small church dedicated to Our Lady of the Snows (hence Tas-Silg) situated at the point where the narrow · road from Zejtun forks out in two directions: to Delimara and Xrobb il-Ghagin due south-east and to Marsaxlokk village due south-west. A British-period fort occupying the highest point of the elongated hill further south along· the first road also carries the same place name. The lower and more compact hill on which the excavations have been conducted is called 'Ta' Berikka' , but since it is so close to the above-mentioned church (only 50 m to the north) the tradition of calling it Tas-Silg is now well established and there is no sense in changing it. The site has a commanding view of the Marsaxlokk harbour to the south and overlooks two other bays, Marsascala and St Thomas's bay, to the north-east. On all sides the slope is broken up by man-made terraced fields There is no doubt that the topography of the site must have been a determining factor in its choice for the establishment of a religious centre in the Temple period of Maltese pehistory (3000--2500 BC), though one must keep in mind that close to Tas-Silg there are three other prehistoric temple sites. each one with a completely different topography. The Temple people were quite introverted in their cultural isolation and do not seem to have been much interested in seafaring and in the outside world. The situation changed radically in the following age, the Bronze Age. when the island was occupied by people who set up villages on naturally defensible hilltops, occasionally fortifying them with artificial ramparts. The Tas-Silg hill with its temple ruins was occupied by these people, but it is not as yet clear for what purpose. The scenario changed again in historical times when the central and western Mediterranean started to be parcelled out among the commercial powers originating in the eastern Mediterranean. The Greeks do not seem to have even tried 10 colonize Malta as they did in neighbouring Sicily. The Phoenicians, however, did occupy the island, apparently through a slow process of peaceful penetration and eventual political and cultural assimi lation. It was in this period that the ruins of the megalithic temple were transformed into a Phoenician extraurban shrine dedicated to Astarte, which in time expanded into a full y-fledged sanctuary with an international reputation. The last chapter in the millennia- long history of the site was written when the colonnaded courtyard in front of the old temple was transformed into an early Christian church. Any use made of the site in the following Arab period is, once again, poorly understood.
Appears in Collections:Melitensia Works - ERCASHArc
Scholarly Works - FacArtCA

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