Malta – Northern Region – Mdina – St. Paul’s Catacombs (Museum)

I posted separately about my visit to the St. Paul’s Catacombs, but there is also an interesting museum at the site which gives an introduction to the catacombs. The above map shows the complexity of the site, with visitors entering at the top right, exploring the first catacombs and then crossing over the road before visiting the others.

Known as the Valeria Inscription, this dates to the fourth to eighth century AD. It was found in 1875 and is one of the oldest inscriptions at the site, although that’s primarily as they haven’t found that many. It reads “Fufica Galena and Curtius Diadoumenos, husband and wife erected this tomb for the well deserving Valeria”.

What I like about this is that the main part of the inscription mentions who paid for it, which does seem to make sense. If you’re going to a lot of expense, then it seems right that you should get the main mention.

Part of the catacombs were visible under the glass floor, but there was a little problem that some of this was covered in dirty footprints and the like. This bit was clearer, although it was difficult to know what I was supposed to be looking at.

The smaller skeleton has a sad story insomuch it’s not known whether this baby had been born or not when it died. There were a large number of skeletons found of children, an unfortunate reality of the number of youngsters who didn’t survive. It’s not clear when the individual died, but it’s thought to be from the Phoenician period.

This skeleton belongs to a man who was buried at the site between the fourth and second centuries BC. He was aged around 60, which was a comparatively high age for the period, and he apparently suffered from severe arthritis and a spur on one rib.

An example of how a burial would have taken place.

The museum was an interesting and useful start to the tour, although it didn’t cover the site in quite as much detail as I’d have ideally liked. However, the displays were presented in an accessible and informative manner, and I liked how one family managed to contain the excitement of their two children who wanted to go down the holes and instead they explained to them the meaning of what there was to see before the kids rushed off.