WELCOME

This blog is dedicated to Malta - my island home. My aim is not to bore you with history but to share my thoughts and a few facts together with a photo or two. For a more in -depth background of the island please go here. The purpose of this blog is not to point out the short-comings of the island. There are plenty that do that already. My wish is to show you the beauty of an island at the cross roads of the Mediterranean, a melting pot of history; a place where fact and fiction are sometimes fused to create unique myths and legends; a country that has been conquered so many times that our culture is a mish mesh of the lands that surround us and of lands far away. I confess that my greatest desire is to make you fall in love with this tiny enchanting island.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

An American Windmill In Malta

There is probably not very much that the USA and  Malta have in common. But there is one structure that is a common feature in the rural landscapes of both countries. It is the humble windmill, or to use a more correct term, wind pump. These mills were used by farmers to pump water from deep under-ground to irrigate their fields. Some of these wind pumps are still in use although, sadly, many of them have been neglected and have fallen into a state of disrepair. I grew up with one of these windmills right opposite our house and I remember many a windy night that I fell asleep to the clanking sound of its steel frame. As a child I would watch the giant blades turning in the wind with a sense of awe. I hope that at least some of these American imports will be maintained for future generations to enjoy.

Almost 6 (9)

On the back-path (27)

Photographed at

Chadwick Lakes

January 2012

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Our Distant Past – Ghar Dalam

The Caves 039

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.

The Caves 040

The Caves 044

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.

The Caves 053

The Caves 056

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.

The Caves 050

The Caves 057

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.

The Caves 017

The Caves 019

The Caves 020

The Caves 023

The Caves 025

For more detailed information about this fascinating site visit Heritage Malta.

The Caves 061

Ghar Dalam Cave & Museum

Zejtun Road

Birzebbuga

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Wildflowers Of Malta – Giant Fennel

Dingli Cliffs (5)

 

Giant fennel (Ferula communis) is not a true fennel but is so named because it looks very similar to fennel. Giant fennel grows all over the Mediterranean, especially in the more arid areas. Here in Malta it is very common to see giant fennel growing on cliff tops – its bright yellow flowers providing a vivid contrast to the blue of the surrounding sea.

Fawwara 298

The plant flowers between March and early May after which seeds form on the umbels (the umbrella-like flowers). This plant is a perennial and easily grows to heights of 2.5 metres.

Dingli Cliffs (7)

The sight of flowering giant fennel is a sure sign that  spring is on its way. The plant has anti-coagulant properties and can be toxic if ingested in large quantities or over long periods of time. In antiquity it was known as narthex and it is said to be the plant used by Prometheus to steal fire from heaven to give to mankind.

Dingli Cliffs (8)Dingli Cliffs (9)

 

Photographed at

Dingli Cliffs, March 2010

and

Fawwara, April 2011

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails