Malta – Southern Region – Birżebbuġa – Għar Dalam

Located just to the north of Birżebbuġa is this prehistoric cave which is where the first evidence of human life on Malta is recorded, dating back nearly 7,500 years.

The skeleton of a brown bear, one of the many animals which died in the cave.

Part of the museum collection of the bones and other remains which were found at the site. There is a real focus on quantity, which isn’t unusual for the time, rather than displaying the most important pieces, but it looks quite impressive when entering the room.

The museum has rather started to heap things up now, although I doubt that these displays have changed much in many years. I quite like the heritage of the displays in many ways, although the museum does perhaps need a little bit of an update.

When they excavated the caves they found a series of different layers of bones and detritus, this is the deer bone layer dating to the period of 13,000 to 18,000 years ago.

After the museum visit is the walk down to the cave, which I managed to time beautifully between two school groups. It’s very lovely that school groups come to look at historic sites, but I prefer them to do it just before I arrive and just after I leave.

Views of the countryside whilst walking down to the caves.

The entrance to the caves, fenced off to prevent vandalism which has unfortunately been a problem at this site in the past.

An example of the different layers which were found at the site.

The walkway, looking back towards the entrance.

Views inside the cave.

Visitors are limited as to how far they can go in case they stand on a woodlouse.

This is the hippopotamus layer and these were on the islands until around 10,000 years ago. There’s also evidence of dwarf elephants which are when larger animals become smaller when in a confined area, such as Malta, because there wouldn’t otherwise be enough food available for them.

Overall, a fascinating site, although more information panels at the site might have been useful to ascertain exactly what some features were. I had my Heritage Malta pass, but the entrance was only a few euros, worth it to imagine humans occupying these caves so many thousands of years ago.