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Explorations into the conditions of spiritual creativity in Prehistoric Malta

Project Director

  • Dr Caroline Malone (Hughes Hall)


Project Programme

  • Planning: January - April 2006
  • Fieldwork and Analysis: April - November 2006
  • Seminar: September 2006
  • Conference: December 2006


Collaborating Institutions


Project Members

  • Dr Michael Anderson
  • Mr Steven Ashley (Norwich)
  • David Barrowclough
  • Suzannah De Pasquale (Heritage Malta)
  • Dr Simon Stoddart


Financial Support

  • Templeton Foundation


Research Aims

The general pattern of innovation in Maltese prehistoric religion has now been established from recent results. From c. 3600 BC a dramatic religious change led to the construction of some of the earliest stone monuments of the world in response to changed attitudes of belief in life and death. These innovative temple structures have been restudied in the light of modern anthropological theory. Additionally, modern fieldwork provides new knowledge of the underground mortuary structures, greatly enhancing a complementary understanding of attitudes to the afterlife. What is needed now is a further level of detailed study to provide the micro-context of these changes. Key questions we wish to pose are What precisely are the changes in the prehistoric art of the period ? and How were these elements of art inserted in the liturgical space of life (temples) and death (mortuary structures) ? To answer them we need a precisely observed catalogue of material set within an equally precisely observed architectural space together with wider comparative analysis of the Maltese context.



  • A precise measured, drawn, photographed and digitally scanned catalogue of all Maltese figurative art accompanied by analytical study.
  • A precise 3D digital record of the context of this art to provide the liturgical framework in reconstructing the placement and use of objects in religious activity. This will draw on current surveys of the monuments by Heritage Malta and original excavation archives, filling gaps where necessary.
  • The use of innovative GIS to assess the access and visibility of the liturgical furniture within its architectural setting based on innovative methodology by Michael Anderson.
  • Seminar followed by an international published symposium on findings of the project.