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Title: Emerging aspects of interaction between prehistoric Sicily and Malta from the perspective of lithic tools
Authors: Vella, Clive
Keywords: Malta -- Antiquities
Tools, Prehistoric -- Malta
Archaeology -- Malta
Sicily (Italy) -- Antiquities
Issue Date: 2008
Publisher: Officina di Studi Medievali
Citation: Malta in the Hybleans, the Hybleans in Malta = Malta negli Iblei, gli Iblei a Malta / edited by Anthony Bonanno, Pietro Militello. Palermo : Officina di studi medievali, 2008. p. 81-93, 321-326. 888861575X
Abstract: The Maltese Islands are an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean approximately 90 km south of Sicily. Since the closest landmass is Sicily, it comes to no surprise that the Maltese Islands were colonised by prehistoric communities originating from Sicily circa 5,500 B.C. Apart from the physical colonisation of the islands, the islanders kept close to the cultural traditions of Sicily. Examples are shown in the importation of obsidian, flint and ochre to Malta and the production of pottery in close resemblance of Sicilian products up until the start of the so-called Copper Age. Roughly one thousand years into the Copper Age megalithic structures started being built in the M arr phase, formalized into the !gantija phase and becoming almost ‘flamboyant’ in the last phase, the Tarxien phase. Almost thirty of these structures are distributed around the Maltese Islands, and their discovery has not been a recent one. Considering the density of these monuments, it is not surprising that investigations of these structures have been ongoing for at least the last two hundred years (Trump 2002: 7-9). The Maltese Islands underwent British sovereignty during the 20th century, which reflected in the high standard of well educated scholars who were interested in the local archaeological remains. This concentration on megalithic remains has led to the current large amount of literature regarding the temples with a minimal amount of artefact studies for Maltese prehistory. Furthermore, since most of the temples were cleared of their deposits without adequate documentation, we now have the monuments but not the deposits which filled them. Such situations make it difficult for us to understand the prehistoric communities which inhabited Malta. Lithic tools, or stone tools, are amongst the artefacts which are expected to be recovered during excavations of prehistoric sites. Lithic tools entail the involvement of a human agent (Darvill 2000: 231), and hence, their analysis can lead into the understanding of several facets regarding prehistoric human culture. Lithic tools became for humans an extension to their own bare hands, which meant that several previously difficult tasks could be overcome. Nowadays it is easy for us to relegate such artefacts to mere stones. However, if we did not have cutlery in our kitchens, tasks such as cutting tough meat would become suddenly energy consuming. In the same way different lithic tool types catered for tasks which required handling, an appropriate analysis of each artefacts leads into a better understanding of sites and culture in general. Stone tools offer archaeologists the opportunity of understanding and comparing prehistoric systems of extraction, production, consumption and exchange (Kardulias & Yerkes 2003: 1). These four factors together imply that a raw material acquisition strategy was set up in every prehistoric community that required the procurement of raw materials. Ultimately, a community interacted with another community. The aim of this paper is to highlight how a systematic analysis, which considers lithic variability, can ‘open’ our eyes to new possible understanding of material culture (Hodder 2001:166-167). Since the purpose of this seminar is the discussing of Siculo-Maltese relations, I shall concentrate on trying to explain emerging patterns regarding this interaction through the study of lithic tools.
ISBN: 888861575X
Appears in Collections:Malta in the Hybleans, the Hybleans in Malta: Malta negli Iblei, gli Iblei a Malta
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