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The Main Team of Cave Explorers
from 1st Sliema Scout Group.

LtoR: Bernard Storace / Paul Calleja-Gera / Vincent Bugeja / Ernest German
Vincent Sciberras (front)

- Other members appear on photographs in the website -
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Bone Handled Bonze Dagger
Has now been chosen to represent one of Malta's 100 Best Objects
see Facebook Page

Diary l Photos l Cave Complex l The Survey l Equipment I Finds l Museum Report 1964 l Mallia's Lecture l Malta TV
Search I Links I Correspondence I NEW - National Museum Bronze Hall

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Photograph of the skeleton of a child found in one of the lower chambers.
(Skeleton Photo kindly taken by, and copyright of, Daniel Cilia)

Film taken by PBS - Malta television, is being shown at the Archaeological Museum Valletta.
In the newly refurbished Bronze Room.- Copyright, so unable to show it on my website.

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The Imposing Cliffs at Dingli

Secrets of a Three Thousand Year Old
Catastrophe Revealed.

Some three thousand five hundred years ago, when you could establish a residence of your choice without so much as planning permission, or even a mortgage, families found refuge in caves. This was true as much for Neanderthal man as for the period this Website is all about - the Bronze Age in Malta, which is about 1450 years Before Christ.

This is the story of one such family, or perhaps even a community, who may have taken up residence in one of the many cliff face caves on the heights of Dingli, Malta, facing the Mediterranean Sea and the tiny island of Filfla. Dawn and sunset must have conjured a very attractive view from their cave entrance, and would have been the envy of their neighbours further inland.

The limestone structure of the Maltese Islands is ideal for cave formation by wind or water. However, the limestone layers, upper and lower coralline, have a sandwich filling separating them, which is made up of blue clay and green sand. The impervious blue clay layer is what retains Malta's meagre water supply. This very water, gradually washing away the clay and sand from under the upper coralline layer the caves are made of, resulted in a catastrophe which spelt the end of not just this community, but probably others living nearby.

One day the weight of the cave roof could no longer be supported and it all came tumbling down, burying everything as it lay. The catastrophe must have been quite sudden and thorough, as was proven by the unique discovery of a small unbaked clay pot which must have been left on the spot awaiting hardening to a leather condition before baking. This, at least, is my belief.

The Discovery
On the 16th November 1964 a team of cave explorers from 1st Sliema Scout Group went in search of a cave entrance on Dingli Cliffs. What we had hoped for was discovering a new cave to explore; what we found was beyond all our wildest dreams -   evidence of a family or community of Bronze Age period who may have used the cave as a home.

How the Cave was named
A catastrophe had befallen this cave in that the extensive roof had collapsed some 3000 years ago and buried all their belongings where they stood.The cave was aptly named 'Ghar Mirdum' (Maltese for 'Buried Cave') by the team inspired by Franz Vella Bamber, after much debate. 

Why a Website
Research has been made on Ghar Mirdum, but nothing thorough has so far been published on these unique finds.  I trust that this Website will rekindle interest in the site, and justify the work carried out by this young team in the very dangerous environment so many years ago. It may otherwise be lost to modern historians studying our unique past.

A Hope
I hope to record in detail the events as I had kept in my Diary, the many beautiful and unique artefacts found and a plan drawn as they were discovered. I include also text from writings and lectures by Mr. Francis Mallia, then Curator of Archeology in Malta, a survey, and photographs.  Extracts from a film made of the discovery by MTV in 1965 may also be placed on the site, technology allowing. I hope too that enthusiasts and students of archeology alike will find the evidence presented useful and will find time to comment on the contents to enable me to present a truer picture.

(Contents of the site are ongoing as become available...)

Paul Calleja-Gera - August 2002

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MALTA is a jewel of an Island in the Mediterranean Sea midway between
Italy in Europe, and Libya in North Africa, with smaller sister islands of
Gozo and Comino to its North West.
It is just 245.7 Square Kilometers in area, with a population of 382,500.

The islands are composed of sedimentary rocks, ideal for cave formation:

  • Lower Coralline Limestone
  • Globigerina Limestone
  • Blue Clay
  • Green Sand
  • Upper Coralline Limestone

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Cave explorers - a thought to ponder:

"We are all, in some respects, caves.  Our interiors are dark, confused, ancient mazes, difficult and sometimes dangerous to penetrate, but often containing unexpected, spectacular scenery. In either kind of labyrinth, those who obediently stop where reason and instinct command them to, never make it to the best and highest places. Inevitably they will be tormented by the existance of unexplored regions, doomed to a fate worse than risk, to the shame of knowing they are less than they might have been, lower than they could be...       Christmas 1970.

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The Author at Benghazi in 1967.jpg

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