With the explosion of international interest in the discoveries that were taking place at Ghar Dalam during the 1920s, it was decided to set up a new site museum for the use of scholars and the public.

The first wing of the museum was opened in the 1930s and has been preserved very much as it was then.

The showcases around the walls house skeletal remains from the cave. They are organised by species and by type, with multiple examples of the same tooth or bone exhibited side by side.

The showcases in the centre of the room contain the complete skeletons of modern examples of deer, elephant and other species. These were not found in the cave, but imported as reference specimens for the use of scholars working on the fossil examples.

A bearded figure appearing in a portrait at the museum is Arturo Issel, the distinguished palaeontologist who, in 1865, was the first to recognise the research potential of Ghar Dalam.

Such a display is rather more useful for scholars than for the public. It has, however, been preserved in order to give the present-day viewer a glimpse of how research was conducted a century ago. The old display is complemented by a much more user friendly didactic display in the new wing, inaugurated in 2002.

This series is appearing every Saturday in collaboration with Miranda Publishers. Photo taken from Museums of Malta 360°, to be launched by Miranda on December 7.

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