Christian Archaeology in Malta between the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries from two unknown letters Articles uri icon



publication date

  • April 2022

start page

  • 1

end page

  • 15


  • 1


  • 32

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2047-6930


  • The article presents two unpublished letters from Maltese archaeologists (Giovanni Gatt Said and Paolo Bellanti) to Giovanni Battista de Rossi and Alfred Louis Delattre, the most important early Christian archaeologists of the Mediterranean in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The two texts have recently been discovered in the Vatican Library and in the Archive of the Missionaries of Africa in Rome respectively. Both deal with topics of great importance for Maltese Christian archaeology: St Paul's Grotto in Rabat and the evolution of Christian underground tombs and Christian lamps. The two authors appealed to two authorities in the field of scientific research at the time to allow Maltese archaeological research to advance. These letters are presented here with the full text and critical commentary, with the aim of using them as good examples to contribute to the reconstruction of the history of Christian archaeological research on the island, and to understand the role of their authors in the reconstruction of the problematic past of the Church of Malta.


  • christian archaeology; malta