Anna Maria Rossi

Making Archaeology Abroad. A Post-colonial perspective in Malta

This research is about the archaeological site of Tas-Silġ (Marsaxlokk), Malta. The sanctuary of Tas-Silġ, effectively defined as ‘an abridged account of Maltese archaeology’, is a hugely important site with a multi-period occupational history beginning in the late Neolithic. It has been the centre of extensive excavations since 1963. At that time, in a political and social context that was leading to the independence of Malta from British rule, an Italian expedition (Missione Archeologica Italiana a Malta) started its first campaign under the support of the Maltese Nationalist Government.

The study primary investigates the terms upon which Tas-Silġ has been materialized as an archaeological site. The analysis unveils the complexity of the process and the close interaction between the political, social, anthropological and archaeological issues involved. It then assesses the role that institutions and individuals play in the materialization process and their reciprocal relations. The study also looks at the effects of such process on the community of non-professionals.

In looking at the making of Tas-Silġ, this tudy indirectly addresses crucial issues about the politics of archaeology and the negotiation of national identity in Malta, as it has gradually emerged from a long course of colonial history.

On a broader scale this research intends to contribute on the debate about the notion of making archaeological abroad, arguing the need of an in-depth analysis on the complex set of interactions that this sort of intellectual enterprise triggers in the host country. It poses the question of the genuine nature of this practice; it addresses the issue of what possibly makes it a form of material and intellectual (neo) colonialism. This study relies on qualitative research methodology. Archival research is combined with face-to-face and groups interviews.

Funding organisation

  • ‘Master & Back’. Higher Education Programme promoted by the Regional Employment Agency – Sardinia (Italy)


 Educational background

  • BA, Classical Archaeology, Catholic University of Milan (Italy)
  • Master Degree (3 years), Archaeology, Catholic University of Milan (Italy)
  • Rossi, A.M. ‘Access to the past: a postcolonial perspective’, in A. Arnberg & T. Stjärna (eds), Communicate the Past: Ways to present archaeology to the public. Proceedings from the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA) 14th Annual Meeting, Malta 2008, Kulturmiljövård i Mälardalen Skrifter 2: 37-48, 2010.
  • Bergamaschi, C. & Rossi, A.M. Between Archaeology and Conservation: the experience of the Italian Archaeological Mission in Malta, in K. Gambin and S. Sultana (eds), Tas-Silġ: its Present, Past and Future, (a symposium), Malta: Midsea Books, forthcoming 2011.
  • Rossi, A.M. & Rossignani, M.P. Liguria. Guida Archeologica, Roma-Bari: Laterza, 2009.
  • Rossi, A.M. Templi Greci di Sicilia, Roma-Bari: Laterza, 2002.
  • Rossi, A.M. Ville Romane nel golfo di Napoli, Roma-Bari: Laterza, 2002.
  • Rossi, A.M. ‘Il bacino-fontana nel Capitolium di Luni: primi risultati’, in Quaderni del Centro Studi Lunensi 4: 43-64, 1998.
  • Rossi, A.M. Engaging with material past: a perspective, paper presented at the session Time and change in archaeology (Parent theme: Archaeological Theory? Legacies, Burdens, Futures). WAC – 6 Congress. Dublin: 29th June – 4th July 2008 (manuscript).
  • Beyond this wall there is a temple’
  • Aerial view of the archaeological site of Tas-Silg (Malta):
  • A view from outside the walls:

Bookmark and Share