L-Imnajdra: World Heritage Site

Site-hardening of L-Imnajdra began in 1992 when the temples were recognised by UNESCO to be a World Heritage Site and was ‘entrusted’[1] to Heritage Malta, a new national Maltese agency for museums,[2] that replaced the former Museums Department,[3] and gave it more flexibility and responsibilities than previously. Today it has a focus on education that includes accessibility to the general public as well as the development of tourism for economic benefit.[4]

Heritage Malta now interfaces with a number of other Maltese groups: the Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna or Maltese Heritage Trust, an NGO that administers several historic buildings and sites, the University of Malta's Department of Classics and Archaeology and the OTS (Old Temple Society) Foundation, whose aims are to ‘foster international awareness and understanding of Malta's prehistoric heritage.’[5]

Other Malti conservationists campaigned to preserve the temples by lobbying to have quarrying in the  L-Imnajdra temple site vicinity stopped and  have been successful in closing the two sites.[6] The quarries were closed in 1997 after being shown to be having an ‘adverse affect’ on the temple sites.[7] These activists have also been instrumental in quelling subsequent applications from the quarry owners for re-opening, extensions and temporary landfill.[8]



While most Malti are ambivalent are about ‘foreign’ appropriation[10] of the temples by UNESCO and the later EU funding for their controversial shelters for preservation, some stakeholders are stridently opposed and view the appropriation as neo - colonial.[11]

For a country that has only tasted true independence since British evacuation from its military bases in 1979[12] this response is not surprising as UNESCO’s claim to L-Imnajdra in 1992 and Malta’s accession to the EU in 2004 left little time for Malti to savour their hard won independence.[13] The EU has been generous in its funding of conservation projects but has left little roomfor other Malti concerns and considerations in the debates.[14]


[1] Mark Rose, "A Monumental Mandate," Archaeological Institute of America, http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/malta/index.html, Accessed 27/3/2010

[2] Ibid

[3] Wikepedia, "Heritage Malta," Wikepedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heritage_Malta, Accessed 27/3/2010

[4] Rose, "A Monumental Mandate"

[5] Ibid

[6] Lino Bianco, "Comments on the Environmental Impact Assessment: Restoration of Disused Quarries at Ix-Xaghra Tal-Maghlaq and Il-Qasam Il-Kbir by Infilling with Inert and Non-Hazardous Waste, Malta,"  (Mlata: 2004)

[7] Ivan Brincat, "No Police Presence Stepped up in Mnajdra Area after Pa Enforcement Notices Served," The Malta Independent, http://www.searchmalta.com.mt/ezine/mnajdra/press4.shtml, Accessed 2/4/2010

[8] Esther Renwick, "Cultural Landscapes in the 21st Century," in UNESCO University and Heritage 10th International Seminar (NewcastleuponTyne: UNESCO, 2005)

[9] Ibid

[10] FKNK, "The Valued Maltese Tradition of Birds’ Capturing,"  (Federazzjoni Kaċċaturi Nassaba Konservazzjonisti Federation for Hunting & Conservation, 2009)

[11] Martin Debattista, "Timeline of Malta History," AboutMalta.com, http://www.aboutmalta.com/history/time-Line.htm, Accessed 22/3/2010

[12] Camille Choteau, "Racism in Malta - Ii," The Malta Independent Sunday, 29/5/2005

[13] Mathew Xuereb, "Mnajdra and Hagar Qim to Be Covered by End 2008," The Malta Independent, http://www.independent.com.mt/news.asp?newsitemid=48620, Accessed 4/10/2010

[14] unknown, "Malta in About-Turn on Bird Hunting Laws," BirdLife Malta, http://www.birdlife.org/news/pr/2006/04/malta.html, Accessed 12/4/2010 

 Gyps Curmi  © 2010