Malta, Mediterranean Bridge

Malta, Mediterranean Bridge

Malta, Mediterranean Bridge

Malta, Mediterranean Bridge

Synopsis

Malta is located at the center of the Mediterranean Basin, a region important in the movement of Homo erectus beyond Africa to other parts of the world and pivotal in numerous cultural transformations that have affected our species from prehistory until the present time. Malta can serve well as a prism for understanding much that is important about lifeways in the Mediterranean: trade, subsistence systems, religion, urbanization, and the transmigration of peoples in war and in peace.

Excerpt

As a unique crossroads in the cultural development of humankind, the Mediterranean Basin has been of great interest to me for a long time, and my anthropological fascination with the Maltese Islands—located at its center—goes back at least 30 years. After writing the entry on Malta in the recently published encyclopedia titled Countries and Their Cultures and being allowed only a few thousand words to describe such a culturally rich and intriguing place, I realized that this book had to be written.

Although the presence of hominids close to the eastern Mediterranean goes back at least as far as certain australopithecines who lived a few million years ago, parts of the region remain scarcely documented in the scholarly literature, as epitomized even in the case of the Maltese Islands, which are centrally located. Malta is a missing link for understanding many regional interrelationships that remain hidden or poorly understood. Pejorative language and chauvinistic outlooks have often obfuscated an understanding both of Maltese experience and of Mediterranean life in general. Because Malta has a small population and much of the scholarly social science literature about it is very specialized or particularistic, much of it never comes to the attention of large audiences through major international publishing houses.

Malta annually attracts tourists in numbers far in excess of its population and is changing very rapidly. One consequence of this change is that popular literature intended to appeal to vacationers is being published much faster than that which is scholarly. Against this background the need for this rather holistic work is urgent. In addition to extensive primary research, it relies heavily on the findings of many other scholars to whom I

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