ARCHAEOLOGY: Misqa-tanks discovered in the 1950s identified at Buleben

Laurie Gravino was an archaeology enthusiast and photographer who lived at Żejtun and at a young age he used to accompany, Dun Ġwann Farrugia, in his country walks, always in search of historical remains.

Gravino used to document anything found during their expeditions, not just by photographs, but also with notes and sketches.  He donated his albums to the National Museum of Archaeology, and these are an important source for researchers.

It was one of these photographs, indicated to us by the researcher Dr Anton Bugeja, that lead us in search of what Gravino described as “misqa-tanks“.  In fact the description in Gravino’s album read:

“146.  The two arrows in the foreground of this picture, are each pointing to a shaft of a misqa-tank. These misqa-tanks, I remember are bell-shaped, and rather of a huge size. They are joined together by means of a hole at the bottom. Besides the two in this photograph, are quite a few others in that area. The site is called Buleben il-Kbir, and is in the district of Zejtun.”

Incidentally a person familiar with the fields at Buleben described to us that once he saw two pits which for him looked like silos.  He took us to see them, however at the time of inspection these were up to their upper edge filled with water, and thus it was impossible to investigate their form and depth.

When we examined Gravino’s photograph and the two landmarks at the background, a farmhouse and a dome (St Joseph’s Convent Church at Żabbar) we had no doubt that the two pits which we have seen were the same pits which Gravino wrote the note on.  These were marked on the 1968 Ordinance Survey Sheet as two small circles (encircled in red) at Il-Ħabel l-Aħmar.  We have also noted that towards the northwest of these there is another group of five similar small circles (encircled in green), however these were completely lost as a factory was built right over them.


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