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Title: Archaeological studies of Maltese prehistory for the FRAGSUS Project 2013-2018
Authors: Malone, Caroline
Stoddart, Simon
McLaughlin, Rowan
Vella, Nicholas C.
Keywords: Excavations (Archaeology) -- Malta
Megalithic temples -- Malta
Megalithic monuments -- Malta
Temple period -- Malta
Xagħra Stone Circle (Xagħra, Malta)
Nuffara Bronze Age Settlement (Xagħra, Malta)
Malta -- Antiquities
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research
Citation: Malone, C., Stoddart, S., McLaughlin, R., & Vella, N. C. (2020). Archaeological studies of Maltese prehistory for the FRAGSUS Project 2013-2018. In Malone, C., Grima, R., McLaughlin, R., Parkinson, E. W., Stoddart, S., & Vella, N. C. (Eds.), Temple places: Excavating cultural sustainability in prehistoric Malta (pp. 1-26). Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.
Abstract: The FRAGSUS Project (‘Fragility and Sustainability in small island environments: adaptation, cultural change and collapse in prehistory’) was devised to explore issues of prehistoric island sustainability set against the background of environmental change and instability. The Project set out with four explicit objectives. These aimed to establish the factors that led to the growth, sustainability and apparent demise of the Neolithic Temple Culture civilization of Malta. The scenario set by previous research (Malone & Stoddart 2013; Trump 1976) identified that the collapse of this long-lived civilization was caused perhaps by isolation and a deteriorating unstable ecosystem amongst other possible factors. The objectives designed to explore the socio-economic changes that took place were to: 1) Reconstruct the past environment to investigate the environmental context of and human impact on ancient Malta. This would be achieved through an assessment of vegetation and landscape stability before, during and after the establishment, maintenance and collapse of the Neolithic civilization; and gathering data for comparisons with the later protohistoric and historical periods. 2) Improve the existing chronological framework by developing a reliable, precise and accurate time frame that would integrate events and trends determined from environmental, landscape and human-archaeological records. The chronology was to be achieved through the implementation of Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon, isotopic and Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) dating methods (tephra analysis was undertaken in order to enable cross-dating with the AMS-dated pollen sequence, within which sparse tephra shards were found). The resulting determinations would give precision to the already unusually detailed artefactual framework, and all results would then be assessed using a Bayesian approach. 3) Establish the population history of early Malta by applying multi-disciplinary approaches to the study of the ancient population using previously excavated human remains from Xagħra. These remains were to be sampled to establish population structure, chronology, diet, stress, activity, disease, taphonomy and external origins. 4) Reconstruct the settlement, subsistence and landscape history of early Malta through study of the changing socio-economic patterns of early settlement, landuse and resource exploitation in prehistory. This would be combined with understanding the impact of deforestation, soil erosion and climate instability on early farming societies by sampling ‘time capsules’ of settlement and palaeoeconomic activity. [Excerpt from Introduction]
ISBN: 9781913344030
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