PRESS RELEASE BY THE MINISTRY FOR JUSTICE, CULTURE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT: Exploring the past to build our future: Minister Bonnici addresses conference and inaugurates exhibition on the FRAGSUS project

Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government Owen Bonnici addressed a conference in relation to the FRAGSUS (Fragility and sustainability in restricted island environments: Adaptation, cultural change and collapse in prehistory) project. This five-year research project carried out by an international interdisciplinary team from Malta, Britain and Ireland led to new exciting discoveries about early Malta and its inhabitants.

We are unearthing new answers and discovering more about our history, about our country and about our heritage. Our history is an imperative source of information and it is also the foundation which we build our future upon, said Minister Bonnici. He highlighted the importance of collaboration and described it as a key element when it comes to provide a holistic dynamic approach as well as exposure. These collaborations, both internationally and locally aid for our heritage to be more accessible, they’re also a great way of sharing our rich history and culture. This Government’s strategy is to ensure that culture is accessible to everyone, as we believe in this vast ever- growing sector which keeps on giving, especially when it comes to employment.

A few of the new discoveries mentioned during the conference were that the first inhabitants of Malta arrived around 5900BC, about 700 years earlier than previously thought and that our islands saw more than one episode of Neolithic colonisation. The new dietary studies conducted showed declining levels of meat consumption as conditions deteriorated, but inhabitants resorted to cereals and other vegetables to sustain themselves. It came as a surprise that fish where hardly exploited.

Minister Bonnici also referred to the fact this year is the European Year of Cultural Heritage. There have already been several firsts related to our treasured heritage this year, namely the inclusion of four Great Siege Maps in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register as well as looking into the process of nominating aspects of our national intangible heritage for the world-renowned UNESCO list for intangible heritage.

The conference also looked at archaeological discoveries and particular sites, such as Skorba, Santa Venera and Tac-Cawla to name a few.

Minister Bonnici will also inaugurate an exhibition pertaining to the results of this project at the National Museum of Archaeology, which will be open to the public free of charge until the 15th of June.

Source: Government of Malta