chapter  III

Malta before 870: Some Libyan Connections

ByAnthony Luttrell

The Byzantine general Belisarius touched or passed by Malta on his way from Kaukana in Southern Sicily to Carthage in 553. Given the scarcity of information about Malta, deductions from Libyan parallels must be very largely hypothetical. Malta came into the Punic sphere only when Carthage became interested in Libya, and the Romans, like the Tunisian Muslims centuries later, were remarkably slow to conquer the island. There is no positive evidence for any contacts between Libya and Byzantine Malta, though both to some extent shared arid and rocky conditions which might have encouraged comparable developments in rural housing. In Malta and Gozo many ordinary people outside the main towns may have lived in caves or in rural houses of the non-military Byzantine type such as those excavated at Kaukana on the south coast of Sicily facing Malta. During the centuries before 870, Malta was certainly in Byzantine hands but its history is very scantily documented.