HM launches project on studying human skulls

(source: Unsplash/Mathew Schwartz)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 July, 2019 at 11:21 am by Christian Keszthelyi

Heritage Malta (HM) has teamed up with Superintendence of Cultural HM and Macquarie University in Sydney Australia to start an international interdisciplinary project for studying the surviving human skulls from the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum, according to a press release sent to Business Malta. This project will be funded with €6,000 by the Union Académique Internationale.

The project entitled “The Sentinels of Ħal Saflieni, Malta: Science Facts versus Science Fiction” will carry out the first-ever interdisciplinary analyses of the remains of the only surviving individuals (less than 20 out of a prospective 7,000 people) excavated from the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum located in Paola, the press release sent to BM says.

The Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum represents a place of global significance for understanding the evolution of intellect, creativity, technology and culture at the key stage when human groups across the region were making the critical transition to agricultural subsistence strategies. 

Skull from Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum (source: Heritage Malta media department/Daniel Cilia)
Skull from Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum (source: Heritage Malta media department/Daniel Cilia)

In addition, the study will be a combination of traditional archaeological, historical and archival research with cutting-edge scientific analyses in order to investigate all the aspects of the lived experiences of the people of Ħal Saflieni, including their health, disease, lifestyle, diet and ancestry profiles.

The Union Académique Internationale funding is part of the celebration of the Union’s Centenary this year and was awarded to Associate Professor Ronika Power of Macquarie University, who qualified as an Early Career Researcher in Humanities and Social Sciences.

Ms Power will be working in close collaboration with curators of the National Museum of Archaeology and the Prehistoric Sites Department of Heritage Malta, the osteologist of the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, Malta, and colleagues from various international institutions.

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