Mortuary Customs in Prehistoric Malta: excavations at the Brochtorff Circle at Xaghra, Gozo (1987-94) [Hardback]

David Trump(Author); Caroline Malone(Editor); Simon Stoddart(Author); David H. Trump(Author)

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ISBN: 9781902937496 | Published by: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research | Series: McDonald Institute Monographs | Year of Publication: 2009 | Language: English 424p, 298 b/w figs, 35 col figs.
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Mortuary Customs in Prehistoric Malta

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Amongst the earliest stone architecture in the world, the Neolithic temples and hypogea of Malta testify to a sophisticated island culture. Explored in the early twentieth century, the subterranean burial temple, the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, was cleared of its burials and artefacts without detailed record. Late in the twentieth century, excavation at Xaghra on Gozo rediscovered a second cave cemetery that provides a unique comparison through the investigation of a substantial portion of the buried site using modern scientific techniques. This revealed one of the largest prehistoric burial assemblages of human remains yet discovered in the Mediterranean, amounting to some 220,000 bones, together with a rich assemblage of animal bone, figurative sculpture, symbolic artefacts and architectural remains. The detailed factual and interpretative report on this site, supported by fresh scientific data on raw materials, landsnails and environment, isotopes, radiometric dating and statistical analysis, is placed in the broader framework of the domestic and ritual landscape of the Maltese islands. The result is one of the most comprehensive studies of the incipient complexity of this mature, agricultural, but non-urban, island society so far published.

Reviews & Quotes

"This is an impressive report..should become a major work of reference for Maltese and Mediterranean prehistory.'"
Madeleine Hummler
Antiquity (Vol. 84, 2010)

"The achievements of the Gozo project and of this resulting monograph are undeniably significant. The re-discovery, modern scientific excavation, recording and analysis, and, now, full publication of the architecture and rich mortuary deposits of the Xag?ra Circle site are outstanding milestones in the history of the archaeology of the Maltese Islands. They add greatly to our knowledge of prehistoric Maltese mortuary practices, so poorly served by the (original) ‘excavation’ and publication of the Hal Saflieni hypogeum and other Maltese rockcut tombs. Indeed, the Xag?ra Circle, with its huge and carefully studied assemblage of human remains (some 220,000 bones, representing
over 800 individuals), now provides an important, world-class, example for the archaeology of death.'"
Robin Skeates
European Journal of Archaeology (14.1-2, 2011)

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