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Title: Malta and its palaeochristian heritage : a new approach
Authors: Borg, Vincent
Keywords: Archaeology -- Malta
Christian communities -- Malta -- History
Christian art and symbolism -- Malta
Malta -- Church history
Issue Date: 1986
Publisher: Mid-Med Bank
Citation: Malta : studies of its heritage and history / compiled by Mid-Med Bank. Valletta : Mid-Med Bank, 1986. p. 47-86
Abstract: The early christian heritage of the Maltese Islands covers, to a great extent, the first six hundred years of the Christian Era. Local history has at its disposal both written sources, even if scanty, as well as archaeological evidence of considerable importance and prominence, both of which help in giving a direct insight into early christian life within the Maltese archipelago. Malta, luckily enough, has found a place in the most widely-read book, namely, the New Testament. The account of St. Paul's shipwreck on our island's shores is the earliest and most valuable written document regarding the arrival of Christ's message to our forefathers. Recent archaeological excavations, on the site known as San Pawl Milqi' at Burmarrad, brought to light the presence of a considerably large Roman villa. Although some archaeological remains which have been interpreted to establish links between this site and Paul's shipwreck may not be convincing, however the chronology of this villa is of paramount importance. An examination of potsherds found here has established that this building was already in existence during the second century B.C. and continued to be used throughout the Moslem domination of Malta. It is thus all too obvious that when the shipwreck took place, Publius could have received here Paul and his companions. Prof. Margherita Guarducci herself states that, after visiting Malta, she fully agreed that the site fits perfectly well within the shipwreck context, while she cherished hopes that further excavations may eventually provide new openings in this regard. Since centuries past, futile attempts have been made to identify the site of St. Paul's shipwreck with Meleda, present day Mljet off Dubrovnic (Ragusa) in Dalmatia. The Byzantine Emperor Costantine VII Porphyrogenitus (911-958 A.D.) seems to have been the first to propose this identification. During the 18th century, the Benedictine Dom Ignatius Georgi revived once more this solution. Our local historian, Count G. A. Ciantar refuted in a masterly way all arguments proposed by Georgi. Other historians followed Ciantar's lead. During the first decades of the present century, Lanzoni affirmed that all attempts to insist on Meleda's claims appear to be unfounded and sterile. However, a few years ago A. Acworth tried to re-examine this problem, stating that a new interpretation of certain textual evidence could favour Meleda's pretentions. C. J. Hemer duly analysed and assessed Acworth's five arguments and proved their futility. He moreover concluded stating: 'I submit that the traditional identification of Melita as Malta must be accepted, not because it is traditional, but because it is correct. I grant that an unsupported tradition may be an unreliable guide, but the arguments for Malta are strong, diverse and open to detailed discussion.
Appears in Collections:Melitensia Works - ERCASHArc

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