Ghar (the gh is silent) Dalam which literally translates to Cave of Darkness is one of the most important prehistoric archeological sites in Malta. The cave is about 144 metres deep but only the first 50 metres are accessible to visitors. In this cave, which is found on the outskirts of Birzebbuga, archeologists discovered the earliest evidence of human settlement on the islands. The remains found here date back 7400 years.
This column shows the different layers that were excavated
Excavations have revealed that the floor of the cave is made up of 5 different layers. In the lowest layers large quantities of fossilised tusks, teeth and bones were found. These remains were found to belong to species which are now extinct such as the dwarf elephant and dwarf hippopotamus. Other remains in subsequent layers were from red deer, brown bear, wolf, fox and giant swan. These animals are no longer found on the island and scientists believe that this proves that Malta once formed part of a land bridge connected to the European mainland. It is thought that after the last Ice Age the rising sea levels trapped the animals here and they slowly died out from lack of food once Malta became an island. Pottery shards and other human artifacts were retrieved from the uppermost layer of the cave.
Ghar Dalam is thought to have been formed by an underground river which, over time, wore away the soft limestone. The cave also has a number of stalactites and stalagmites. During WW2 it was used as an air raid shelter.
Prior to entering the cave there is a museum which houses hundreds of bone fragments from the animals mentioned above. There is also an explanation of the geological activity that took place in the Mediterranean following the last Ice Age.
For more detailed information about this fascinating site visit Heritage Malta.
Ghar Dalam Cave & Museum