Archaeologists from Queen’s University in Belfast and from Cambridge University are in Gozo carrying out archaeological work in connection with excavations carried out between 1987 and 1994 on the Xagħra Stone Circle, known also as the Brochtorff Circle.

The project is being carried out in collaboration with Heritage Malta and the University of Malta.

The aim of the project, sponsored by the British Academy, is to extract additional samples and reorganise the finds from the site to establish and confirm dating of the prehistoric levels there. The information obtained will shed new light on the customs and way of life of people living on the Maltese islands during prehistory.

Bone and pottery samples dating between 6,000 and 4,400 years ago will be studied in the laboratories of the universities of Belfast and Oxford in an attempt to refine the dating sequence of early Malta.

Times of Malta, 19th September 2008 –

Other studies to be carried out will provide information on the diet of the people. This aspect may help in the interpretation of the changes in society and economy at the end of the temple period and the eventual collapse of the Maltese temple culture around 4,400 years ago.

Gozo Minister Giovanna Debono visited the archaeologists during the course of their work.

Caroline Malone and Simon Stoddart, the two archaeologists leading the project, explained to the minister the complex processes undertaken during the last 15 years for the study of the material excavated from the Xagħra Stone Circle. Two hundred thousand human bones and almost a ton of pottery fragments were studied with the aim of building a clear picture of the customs of the people who lived there, particularly those connected with burial ritual.

The minister discussed prop-osals for better preservation, presentation and interpretation of the site.

Artefacts found on the site have shed invaluable light on the artistic capabilities of prehistoric people living on Gozo. A selection of the most significant and important finds, including unique pieces of sculpture, are permanently on show at the Gozo Museum of Archaeology at the Ċittadella.