The Għar Dalam phase (5200-4500 BCE) describes a period in Maltese prehistory. Artifacts from this phase offer information about Early Neolithic human activity on the Mediterranean island of Malta. Animal remains and human artifacts were excavated in Għar Dalam, to the southeast of the island near the village of Birżebbuġa, in 1987.[1] The Għar Dalam phase was followed by the Grey Skorba phase (4500-4100 BCE).[2]


File:Outils lithiques maltais.jpg

The pottery of the first settlers is known as Għar Dalam Ware, characterized by impressions around the rim and neck of simple bowls and globular jars. This type of decoration is linked with the Stentinello Ware of Sicily and with the larger family of Impressed Wares found throughout the central and western Mediterranean.[3] The cave in which they were discovered, Għar Dalam, was formed by water percolating through and dissolving the Lower Coralline limestone (also called Maltese/Gozitan Marble)[4] during the Pleistocene. Cultural debris rested beneath a thin calcareous lens; deeper strata uncovered numerous unique discoveries, including abundant bones of dwarf hippopotamus (Hippopotamus melitensis), pigmy elephant (Elephas falconeri) and giant swans.[3] Human artifacts included flint tools, potsherds and amulets mixed with the bones of domestic beasts such as sheep, goats and cattle.[3]


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