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DIARY OF EVENTS TAKING PLACE ON THE
DISCOVERY OF A SERIES OF CAVES
ON THE SCREE BELOW THE CLIFFS
OF DINGLI (MR. 4525-6730) MALTA

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Home l Photos l Cave Complex l The Survey l Equipment I Finds l Museum Report 1964 l Mallia's Lecture l Malta TV l Search 


Diary kept by the leader of the group of cave explorers.
 

Team consisting of:-
Paul Calleja-Gera
Vincent Bugeja
Franz Vella Bamber
Ernest German
Bernard Storace
Vincent Sciberras

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1964

16th November 1964 (Monday) – a few days ago Mr. Edward Tortell, Group Scoutmaster of 1st Sliema Group informed me that he had heard of the whereabouts of an entrance to a cave somewhere on the South side of the Island. He did not know exactly where but had an impression that it was somewhere on the cliffs. Vincent Bugeja and I left Sliema early this morning to start, what we thought would be a long series of inquiries with the local gentry about any caves likely to exist in their area of work in the fields, stretching from Lapsi to Ghajn Tuffieha. Our first call was on Mr. Seraphin Abela, owner of the Angel’s Leap Café, which is situated on the very edge of a cliff on the outskirts of Dingli village.

Mr. Abela told us that, as a matter of fact, there was a cave entrance about 200 yards to the West and below his café. Vincent and I decided to investigate the possibilities and lowered ourselves over the cliff edge. The opening we saw did not look like it was going to prove very interesting, and it also looked rather dangerous, being formed of fair sized boulders jammed together in a haphazard fashion. Donning our battery operated headlamps we slid down and found ourselves in a very small chamber.  On removing a few loose rocks however, we noted that air was rising from a shaft just below us.  We decided to fetch all our equipment inside and stored the surplus under a rock. This first shaft proved fruitless taking us down 12 feet into a cramped hole barely wide enough for us to turn around in.  Next we took a look at another hole and this time we were successful.

A step down underneath a suspended rock took us down 5 feet lower into a small chamber, and here problems started.  About 10 feet below could be seen a small hole.  Wondering where this might lead us to and not knowing how deep it was, we threw a 30 foot Nylon rope down, tied its end to a solid looking rock and took a deep breath.  We passed the ropes through our karabiners and slid carefully down, squeezed through the hole and found ourselves in a small chamber about 8' by 12'. Strewn about the ground we could see various potsherds. This was it.  A quick look at the shards told us they were mainly Bronze Age, with larger fragments of more recent pots, possibly of Roman times.

As if to warn us of the dangerous state of the pothole, a large rock suddenly slid out of place from the ceiling and crashed right in between Vincent and myself, slightly grazing my companion's forehead, and smashing the largest of the 'Roman' shards to bits.  Lucky for us were both wearing fiber caving helmets.  Seeing there was a mixture here of potsherds from two different periods, and possibly more, we decided to leave them in situ and explore further.

To the right and up a small slope (facing South West) was a small opening between 2 boulders.  Shining a light in between the rock we were overjoyed to see a wall of rock some way ahead of us.  We removed a few stones to enlarge the opening and I squeezed through.  I found myself in a fairly large chamber, about 14 by 24 feet and 10 feet high in places.  A few more rocks were removed to make the way a bit easier and Vincent joined me.  More shards and a few animal bones were found here, and again left in situ for expert perusal.

A narrow passage opposite the one we had just come from, led us to a six foot square pocket in the rock with a shaft leading down for quite a distance beyond the beam of our lamps. We decided to explore this at a later stage with rope ladders.  Crossing gingerly over the chasm we saw light and were rather disappointed. Time was getting short.  We had entered the first pothole at 15:45 and it was now already 18:00.  We followed the source of the light and found ourselves back on the Rdum (Maltese: scree) about 30 yards East of where we had entered.   We named these, the East and West entrances.  We gathered all our equipment together and were back on the cliff having a drink with Mr. Abela by 19:20 hrs.

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17th November, 1964 This Tuesday evening Vincent and I discussed the problems of exploring our cave further and decided we would need assistance.   Franz Vella Bamber, Ernest German, Vincent Sciberras and Bernard Storace were told of the discovery and were all too willing to join in the venture.  We discussed a plan of action and set a time for tomorrow to start work.

18th November 1964 This morning I paid a visit to the National Museum in Valletta and officially informed Mr. Francis Mallia, Curator of Archaeology, of our finds, and requested permission to excavate the site on behalf of the Museum, under their guidance.  I assured him that photographs would be taken of all important finds in situ before removal, also plans and drawings of the chambers containing archeological material, and at a later stage a survey of the system of caves would be undertaken. Mr. Mallia gave me his sanction and said he would come down to the cave as soon as possible. "Be careful" were his parting words.

Franz, Ernest, Vincent Sciberras, Bernard and I entered the West pothole at 1500 and went straight to the small pocket above the shaft we intended to explore.  Ernest took on the job of tying a 120 foot lifeline to a boulder and I lowered myself on this rope to a depth of about 30 feet when I touched soil. Ernest followed shortly and we shone our lights around.  We found ourselves in a small chamber with a slope to one side leading down and twisting left.  It looked rather precarious so we passed the lifeline through our safety belts and started crawling down.   We were now crouching in a low chamber, and realized that its ceiling was actually the floor of the one we had just vacated.  A couple of inches in front of us was a gaping hole.  Again we shone down torches and saw a fairly large chamber below us, with its floor about 25 feet away.  We now realized that we had been standing on a very thin rock indeed and it was time to move, either up or down.  We chose up. On the way up and just below the shaft we found a piece of rotted manila tied in a bowline with the end severed.

Bernard had left by the time we got the surface, and Franz and Vincent were busy exploring two more chambers they had found. These were again lower down to where we were standing and the lowest yet.  The second chamber down had only sitting headroom but on its South side we saw a crack about 9 inches wide by 2 feet high, which we decided to investigate.  While Franz and Vincent kept watch on the outside, Ernest and I literally squeezed through the crack and landed on a large boulder jammed between what seemed to be two walls of solid rock.

On one side of the boulder was a cut at a 45 degree angle and was hanging free.  We looked over the edge and saw that we were about 25 feet above the floor level of another cave (Ed.chamber).  Rope ladders were handed down to us through The Squeeze (Ed.as it was to be forever known) as we named the crack, and in a few minutes we were down on the lower floor.  This was by far the largest chamber we have seen yet.  At this stage we decided simply to get ourselves familiar with the surroundings and excavate later when we had all the equipment and time we needed.

A few samples of potsherds lying on the surface we collected, and placed in canvas bags. Others we saw jutting out of mounds of earth, we left alone.   At 1900 hours we were all packed up and out in the fresh air again.  Today we also started photographing parts of the cave with my Exakta with colour, and Mamiyaflex C3 with black and white film.

 

 

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20th November 1964 This afternoon at 1500, the two Vincents and I entered the cave at the East opening loaded with equipment.  Today we had the pleasure of the company of Mr. Francis Mallia, who was kind enough to spare some of his valuable time to assess the importance or otherwise of our findings.  Bone brachia and potsherds were collected (rather than excavated, as Mr. Mallia explained) and put in separate containers to identify them with the various sites from which they were recovered. At this upper level Mr. Mallia confirmed that both Roman and Bronze Age shards were being found and also fragments of a thin hard-baked reddish ware, possibly Carthaginian.

While Mr. Mallia was expertly studying the material, the team fixed up the ladders to the lower chamber and by 1600 we were all safely down.  Here Mr. Mallia set to work slowly scraping the dust away from bones and shards, and on his directions the team did likewise.  I set myself the task of photographing the men in action and the more interesting finds which were coming to light by the dozen.  We all worked hard at it for two hours, and by this time we had two sacks full of shards and bones.  Mr. Mallia jokingly expressed that we had already dug up shards to last out a year's work in sorting and classifying (Ed: whether this was ever done by the Museum staff in Malta is unknown), so we called it a day and started on the laborious way out.

The Squeeze proved too narrow for the loaded sacks and these had to be emptied carefully, the contents passed out bit by painful bit and replaced in the containers.

At 1900 hours we were out on the Rdum and on the way home. It had been a very successful day and the Curator of Archaeology has put us in very high spirits by remarking that this seemed likely to be a very important find.  Time will tell.

21st November 1964 The working team today consisted of Ernest, the two Vincents, Bernard and self.  We entered by the East opening and descended striaght down to the lowest level.  Four sacks full of shards and bone breccias were collected and the more interesting ones photographed and their position marked on a small rough sketch of the chamber. It was 3pm when we entered and it was by this time already 1700.  The most interesting find today was brought to light by Vincent Bugeja in the form of an oil lamp.  I photographed him holding the almost intact item at the site in order to have a positive record of its discovery. At 2145 hours we were breathing fresh air in the cool night breeze blowing from the sea.  A total of 17 hours has already been spent underground by various members of the team.

25th November 1964 This morning I rang Captain Harry Callaby of Civil Defence fame, and requested the loan of a set of field telephones to enable teams working in the lower levels to keep in touch with the surface in case of emergency, and also to report any finds which required photographing.  Permission was granted providing a formal request would be made out by the National Museum (of Malta) authorities.  Early in the afternoon Ernest and I called at the Civil Defence Headquarters at Targa Gap, Mosta, and viewed the field sets which seemed adequate for the job.  Over 200 yards of cable were also promised us.  Later in the afternoon we called at the cave and collected a number of shards which had been left close to the entrances.  This evening being Senior Scouts parade, we discussed the naming of the cave and we decided, after a score of names had been suggested, that GHAR MIRDUM would suit the place best.  Ghar Mirdum means Subsided Cave and describes the system of caves to the letter.  I also put it on record that most of the members of the team working on Ghar Mirdum are members of 1st Sliema Scout Group, except Franz Vella-Bamber, who is, however, a member of the B-P Scout Guild, Sliema branch.

26th November 1964 Early this morning I was contacted by Mr Mallia and informed that the Civil Defence Commissioner, Colonel J. V. Abela had kindly sent down two field telephones with about 500 feet of cable, strong enough to withstand the rough handling it would be subjected to in our cave.

27th November 1964 (Friday) Thinking mainly of the safety of the team and also of any visitors who might wish to view the excavations, I contacted Flight Lieutenant Cooper, the Ground Physical Fitness Officer at Royal Air Force Floriana, and was advised to contact his Senior Officer, Squadron Leader Page, of the RAF Regiment at Hal Far with regard to the loan of suitable safety helmets. He, in turn, put me on to Flight Lieutenant Proctor of RAF Safi and a date was set for tomorrow to view the helmets at Safi at 1015am.

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28th November 1964 Arrived at Safi at 9.30am and spoke to the Sergeant in charge.  Six helmets were supplied and signed for, but these turned out to be Army combat steel helmets and were quite inadequate for the job. However, I accepted them in good faith, and promised to return them as soon as my order for proper caving helmets arrived from the United Kingdom.

29th November 1964 Sunday morning, with the weather fine and very warm. At 8.30 this morning Ernest and I unloaded the gear from my Morris Traveller and stored the heavy rope ladders in the west entrance.  As it was rather early we decided to take a walk along the bottom of the cliff, directly above Ghar Mirdum.   Quite a large amount of shards were found lying almost on the surface of the Rdum as far to the West of the cave mouth as 100 yards or more.  Today we started the long job of surveying the system of caves. Our first job was to designate letters to each chamber, passage or shaft to make referencing easier.  We started at the West entrance which was designated the letter A and carried on from there. Conditions were getting rather appalling.  Hardly a rock could be touched without its showing some movement in one direction or another, and I thought of the incident which took place on the very first day I had entered this place with Vincent Bugeja.  Extreme care will have to be exercised and all safety measures taken at any expense.  Seven chambers were surveyed by the 'Compass & Station' method.  Wooden pegs were placed in position where each could be sighted by compass from two points and distances measured, thus giving an accurate enough fix for our purposes. Leading from Chamber D a passageway was explored and was found to lead to a point in the Rdum below and slightly to the west of the East entrance. This will be noted as an emergency exit.

Various photographs were also taken today, and we broke off for sandwich lunch in the car between 1300 and 1400.  We were out of the cave again at 9pm, having spent almost 11 hours surveying.

Tuesday 1st December 1964 - Today we had a special guest invited by Mr. Mallia, Dr. Ragonese, a member of the National Museum (of antiquities). While Mr. Malla and I descended the longer route, Vincent Bugeja and Ernest guided Dr. Ragonese through the east way and prepared the ladders for the descent into Chamber P, which we now call 'The Kitchen' due to the large amount of pottery, bones and carbon (ashes) found there in the last few days.  Francis Mallia and I rejoined the second group at 10 o'clock and the field telephones were connected. One was left with Ernest who took the first watch outside the most hazardous area, The Squeeze, while the rest of us lowered the rest of the gear down to The Kitchen.

At 1330 hours the telephone rang down below and it was Ernest.  In a very excited voice, he said he had been clearing some soil and rocks a few feet up the slope from the Squeeze and found something looking like ivory with black designs all over it.  I quickly handed the handset to Francis Mallia, whose face suddenly lit up. "You may have a pendant there ...bone ...decorated ...three holes in the end ...we are coming up as soon as possible."

It took us some time to climb up the ladders, and we all viewed the object.  Mr. Mallia said it tallied with Ernest's description but it was not a pendant.  Instead he proclaimed, "This is a handle to a small dagger, probably bronze!"  This was the most important find yet and the Curator of Archaeology told us that nothing like it had been found on the Island before.  If nothing else was worth the danger and hard work we were all experiencing, this was.

We all set to work again and a small pocket in the rock was explored below the kitchen.  Nothing of interest was found there.  More items of interest collected today were various decorated pottery and the top part of a footed bowl.

Our guests left us at 1600 hours and we carried on work till 2100.  A very worthwhile day.

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4th December 1964 Another guest descended into the depths of Ghar Mirdum today, Dick Owens, a Canadian Scout touring the world.  With him he brought luck.  We dug for five and a half hours today, digging into sandwiches and coffee as well to wash away the fine dust which insisted to reciprocate in investigation our mouths, eyes and ears.

Quite an assortment of shards and artefacts was placed before my camera lens, to be recorded on celluloid.  These included a stone implement, presumably a hammer of sorts, a red painted shard, a most beautiful little vase in a very good state of preservation except for a broken handle on one side, a quantity of fibrous material on a fragment of pot, and most amazing of all...a tiny peg based vase of clay yet unbaked.  This could easily have been mistaken for a freshly made article were it not for the fact that inside it was a shimmering lump of white mould. Whoever had started making this vase and forgot all about it? What type of person was it? How long had it been lying there? That it had been there for a considerable time none of us doubted.  It took three of us to remove some of the boulders covered with centuries of dust, that covered the entrance to where the pot lay.  Next to it stood a lump of clay the size of a golf ball.  No clay  can be found in the cave, but Malta's Blue Clay layer lies only about 15 feet below where we are working.

5th December 1964 Yesterday's finds now lay in the National Museum's hands. I presented them to Francis Mallia this morning and he asked me to convey his appreciation at the way the boys were handling the precious and irreplaceable material.  This I did tonight during a meeting of the team at the Sliema Scouts Headquarters in Depiro Street, which has become our base of operations, with the full sanction of the Group Scout Master, Mr. Edward Tortell, who was the instrument to our looking for the site in the first place.

7th December 1964 Today we did not enter the cave.   Instead we concentrated on endeavoring to plot the system of caves in relation to the Rdum and the cliff face, thus enabling us to reconstruct, in our mind's eye if not on paper, how the cave looked before it subsided.  It was soon clear by the superimposed sketches that the two entrances lay immediately above the upper and lower levels of the labyrinth and that indeed every careless step taken by an unsuspecting intruded could lead to disaster both for himself or whoever was unearthing the mysteries of Malta's past over a hundred feet beneath his soles.

Wednesday 9th December 1964 Today we surveyed chambers M & N, which are the two leading to the now infamous 'Squeeze', and excavated part of Chamber N.  We took out all shards previously excavated, which had been left in their respective areas.  Three sacks full were taken from this area.  Present today were Ernest German, Bernard Storace and I, and we stayed in the cave from 3pm till 6pm.

From chamber N today were excavated a 'Catapult' handle (pottery) and an object, brown in colour, and looking like a cockroach egg pouch, but larger.  Also bits of rolled clay.

Friday 11th December 1964 Ernest and I entered the cave at 3pm and continued our systematic excavation of chamber N, besides the Squeeze.   Shards with fine zig-zag and straight line decoration (incised) were brought up by Ernest.  A cup of welcome coffee was downed, and Roman pottery shards were then sifted from among the rubble wall.  Also from this area we were surprised to come across 3 shards of thin glazed pottery (probably Carthaginian) - See note below**, also an almost whole bowl part of a jug, a large animal bone, quantity of carbon, and to our amazement, a fragment of bronze.  This could be either bronze age or due to its shape half a Roman coin.  Later a large flake of pebble and a seemingly 'worked' piece of limestone (possibly a stone hammer) were excavated.  We left the cave at 8.30pm.

** Later identified by Francis Mallia as Italian origin (Arretine ware). A class of Roman pottery characterized by its red, glossy surface and named after its most important centre of production, Arretium (Arezzo) in Italy. Fragments found in the 13th cent. were very much admired by contemporary artists.

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Monday 14th December 1964 Party consisting of Bernard, Ernest, Vincent S, Vincent B, and I entered the cave system at 4pm using the easier and quicker East entrance.  Today we continued our excavation of the fruitful chambers M & N, and survey of the same, for the purpose of plotting our finds in their respective areas.  Items of greater interest besides the usual shards, were: Fragment of Bronze Pin - 2 Bronze Rivets - Incised Zigzag shards - A bronze Knife Blade (the first of its type found in Malta) - fragments of egg shell - an enormous amount of shards and bones of animals.  Another axe-handle pottery was also discovered together with a small amount of lined incised shards.

We left the cave at 9.30pm and went to show Francis Mallia our finds.  He was especially pleased to see the Bronze items.

Friday 18th December 1964 Ernest German and I today showed Mr. Edward Tortell (AKA Wings - Group Scout Master of Sliema Group) down to the cave.  We stayed in from 3.30pm to 9.45pm excavating at Chamber P (the Kitchen).   A fair amount of pottery and animal bones were brought up, and also a large pot handle of the conventional type (ear handle).  A few flakes of carbon were placed in a box.  Temperature comparisons: Outside temperature 50 degrees F - inside the lower chamber 44 degrees F.

Monday 21st December 1964 Ernest, Bernard, Vincent B. and I entered the caves at quarter to four in the afternoon.  Ernest and I explored a small chamber U, below the Kitchen.  Ernest just made the only small crack available to go deeper down, and the opening is to be made larger for other members to go in at a later date. It was just a bit too tight for me to pass through.  One rock was then moved which just allowed me to pass through to the lower section.  Here we found some bronze age shards, then returned to assist our companions with their task of combing out 'the kitchen'.  Finds today were: a single fish vertebra, with a clear hole in the centre - a black date-like object (still a mystery) - an almost intact egg-cup shaped pot - various finely decorated shards - another 'axe-handle' piece of pottery.

At 9.30pm Joe Attard, Inspector of police at Msida, called out at the mouth of the cave, and he was brought down to have a look at the proceedings.   We left the cave at 10.45pm and had dinner of T-Bone steak at the King's Head restaurant in Sliema.

30th December 1964 Bernard, Ernest, Vincent B, and I explored the surface of Ghar Mirdum around to the north west of the cave entrances.   We also explored some pot holes and found what looks like an opening to a silo pit on cliffs and a hundred yards from what we term 'the easy way down' to the caves.   This is in the form of a rim of a hole cut in the live rock about 4 inches in diameter with a rope hole on one side.  the hole is filled with spoil and rock. Today we worked in the cave from 15.30 to 17.30pm.

1965

2nd January 1965 We had a new guest today, Diane Micallef who entered the cave with Ernest Bernard and I at 15.30 hrs and dug at M & N.   We found various decorated pottery and also a glass bead (fiancé) with a hole in the centre.  We were out of the cave at 19.45 hrs.

3rd January 1965 Today I posted all the Kodak Colour Slides to UK by express post for processing - postage cost 5s 4d.

4th January 1965 Today we took a load of finds to the National Museum in Valletta.

7th January 1965 Went to Museum in the morning and spoke to Mr Mallia regarding his lecture.  Went for a drink together.   In the late afternoon I received some slides from Kodak.

8th January 1965 Gave colour slides to Francis Mallia.  Lecture at British Institute at 1800.  Very well attended 3/4 hour. Almost all the slides were shown and so were all the black and white photographs.   The survey diagrams were exhibited at the Museum Department in Valletta.

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11th January 1965 11.30am Interview at Rediffusion with Mr. Mallia. Run of 7 minutes on the air.  Broadcast at 7.30pm and on 12th January at 6.30am.  Interview was recorded and all aspects covered. Discovery and details.

12th January 1965 a.m. spoke to Joe Grima (Rediffusion) - 1700 talk with Joe Grima, Charles Grech, Ives DeBarro, J.G. Vassallo re filming of episode in the cave for Lino Spiteri's programme "Din il-Gimgha" (M. This Week). To film the cave on 15th January 1965.

14th January 1965 PCG-BS-VSW-VB entered Ghar Mirdum at 1900 and prepared rope ladders and telephone for tomorrow's filming.  EG & PCG attached ladder in Chamber K for the first time and descended in Chamber P, The Kitchen.  Met the other three already down there.  Dug near unfired clay area and found more pieces of Castelluccio and a strange round baked clay object with a hole at each end. Out at 2200.

15th January 1965 - Fulfillment of a Life Time ambition:- This is how the cave explorers felt today.
The big day. The team today consisted of Paul Calleja-Gera, Ernest German, Bernard Storace Vincent Sciberras and Vincent Bugeja. We proceeded to the offices of Rediffusion at Guardamangia at 8.30am with Francis Mallia and met MTV staff.  We drove straight to Dingli for the purpose of filming Ghar Mirdum.  Started filming at 9.30am from the cliff top. Entered cave at 10am at the West Entrance and MTV filmed all the way to The Squeeze.  Charles Grech unfortunately did not make the Squeeze and had to wait at the East Entrance.  Lino Spiteri carried on filming in 16mm while Ives Debarro took notes for the Gwida (the MTV Guide publication) and Walter Scerri took B & W still photographs.  Lino Spiteri also recorded sound effects and interviews.  MTV staff were shown all round the cave, also chambers P & R.

Out of the cave at 1500 and back to Rediffusion for tea and a chat.  An enjoyable day all round.

18th January 1965 Disaster - 100feet of film accidentally fogged over at MTV studio. Same team minus F Mallia and Ives Debarro re-entered at 15.30 and straight down to chamber P.  Again Charles Grech could not negotiate The Squeeze.  Lino Spiteri filmed at Chamber P excavations.  Very lucky as while I and the team removed a large boulder, Ernest spotted a whole pot, beautifully moulded and complete in every detail.  This was filmed.  Back at M & N some still shots were taken of the two teams, out at 17.30 and back to Rediffusion House for tea.  Lino informed me that tomorrow, Tuesday, at 8.20pm the whole team will be appearing on TV before the film.

19th January 1965 Whole team, (less Vincent Bugeja) met Lino Spiteri and Mr Mallia and after rehearsal appeared on TV at 8.25pm for 15 minutes.  Show went down very well all round.  Film was shown and I explained cave in detail off our survey map.  Francis Mallia then showed some of the artefacts and answered questions put to him by Lino Spiteri.

Thurs. 21st January 1965 Disturbing discussion with Francis Mallia. He informed me that he thinks a hoard of coins or jewellery were once hidden in the two Roman amphora we found in Chamber C and Chamber M and must have been removed at some time or other by intruders.

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22nd January 1965 PCG VB FVB and BS enter West entrance at 1530 and explored chamber C.  Few shards found. Out through passage L at 1730.

Wed 22nd January 1965 1500 PCG VS and VB met Seraphin Abela and together took a look at various potholes.  Some proved very promising.  One especially needs a 50 foot ladder to reach.  Others need clearing of boulders before reaching. Some Roman and Bronze shards and animal bones were discovered in the cave with incendiary bomb (probably WW2). Today I decided to dedicate much of my time to the study of the Ghar Mirdum area.  This might take years to complete, if ever, and it would certainly cost quite an amount of money.  Speleo-archaeology is practically unknown in Malta, except for Ghar Dalam which requires no special skill in speleology, and a study of this kind might yet reveal facts about our forefathers in pre-history which were previously unknown.  Ghar Mirdum itself has proved that a study of the surrounding area should prove fruitful, both for the sake of speleology and archaeology.  I consider myself lucky to have the help of such a wonderful team of young men, without whose help I would have accomplished nothing.

28th January 1965 My thoughts for today are the same as yesterday's. A hope that one day I will be able to carry on work in earnest in Ghar Mirdum.  For the record, I believe that a large amount of potsherds, and possibly more valuable items including human remains exist in Chamber P far on the East corner near the ladder descent.  This would be right underneath the area where the bone dagger handle was found.  A very dangerous area to work in due to much loose rock.

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29th January 1965 Today was very fruitful. PCG EG and VB first explored Ghar il Kbir (a cave dwelling called The Big Cave near Rabat), then at 3.45pm entered a new pothole beneath the Angel's Leap (a bar) and proceeded to remove boulders. At 4.45pm Vincent Bugeja espied a Roman Amphora (No.1 pictured above) crushed between two immense boulders.  The removing of rock was a hectic and long job, but the amphora was at last removed piece by piece.  Inside it we found a cup (No.4).  Close by were also the remains of another amphora (No.2), a chipped cup (No.5) and the shards of a plate (no.3) a bowl (No.6) and possibly a round jug (not illustrated as shards too small).  A few cracks in between rocks were opened up to reveal other caves. This is likely to be a continuation of Ghar Mirdum separated only by a solid fall of rock and may have been one of the internal pillars that held the roof.

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7th February 1965 PCG, Tony Borg and Paul Formosa, two visitors, entered Ghar Mirdum and excavated at Chamber P.   Large boulders were removed near the entrance to Chamber Q.  At one moment Paul Formosa exclaimed: "I have found some bones!". On close examination some of the bones looked human enough although they were in a mixed bundle with other animal bones.  Could this be the great day?

22nd February 1965 Following a short break due to pressure of work. Visit to cave by Ernest, Vincent Bugeja and Tony Attard (aka Il-Landir - the Tinsmith) from 8am to 11.30am.

24th February 1965 Took Roman Amphorae and remains from Ghar Seraphin (another cave), and bones and stone implements from Ghar Mirdum to Museum. Mr Mallia confirmed that pieces of skull and lower jaw were human, probably a child of 2 years or so. Ribs and vertebrae were probably human too.

12th March 1965 Took temperature readings - Outside temperature 43 degrees F, Inside 47 degrees F.

PCG, VB, Mr Mallia and Bob, an American visitor greatly interested in archaeology, entered East entrance at 1500 and straight down to Ch.P to excavate for more human remains. We had quite a job removing large boulders to clear the area where we had found the remains of the child. Some further remains in the form of ribs, a tooth, and part of the spine were found (also some shards). Out of cave at 17.30.

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15th March 1965 Phone call from Francis Mallia to inform that University Speleo Society had found pots and shards near Chamber R.  We were none too pleased at this news as it resulted that the University team had simply removed the shards without sketching or photographing them in situ.   We felt that the system on which the team had been working since the very first day we started is now incomplete due to the loss of this opportunity to photograph what is probably the only part of the cave which did not suffer much damage (due its being near cave floor level). Now called Ch. V.

16th March 1965 Called at Mr. Mallia's office to view the shards.  Made a date for Monday 22nd March to view Ch. V with Joe Sacco and Mr Mallia.

17th March 1965 Mr Mallia called to change date to Tues. 23rd March.  Rang again and asked me to call over at 1pm to collect 'a paper'. Collected what turned out to be a draft for a bill of £M6 to museum for our transport and expenses.

...and thus ended the Diary of Events following the discovery of Ghar Mirdum. What followed was weeks and months of retrieval of more pottery and artefacts at such time as we could afford.

 

 

 

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