Harsien Patrimonju Mosti


Cart Ruts or Raddi in Maltese are channels cut into the rock, usually in pairs of parallel lines that intercoss in places.
These ruts may be found scattered all over the Maltese Islands and at the centre of discussion in terms of what they were really made for and by whom exactly.
Mosta and its surroundings has a fair share of these ruts.
They are mainly found close to the Victoria Lines natural fault, at Targa Gap, Misrah Ghonoq, Tal-Wej, and Wied il-Ghasel.

Various studies have been made by a range of experts and historians over time, and several attributes have been assigned to the reason and use of such ruts.
The mainstream idea is that they first started being dug by the Bronze Age people, around 2000 BC, but others have suggested that they may be as recent as 700-200 BC (Punic Era) or even Roman in some cases. 
One of the main difficulties in establishing a timeframe is the exclusion of carbon dating, which would reveal the age of the rock itself rather than when altered. 
The analysis of contents found within the soil deposits that cover some of these ruts is possible, but that too poses issues, given that any inundation of the channels could have occurred much later and over many centuries.
Such data, is useful but inconclusive as to dating the ruts securely.
When studying any site or artefact, one must pay attention to both its immediate surroundings and setting in a broader context.
Mapping all findings helps establish a network that in turn sheds light on usage of sites by one or more civilisations over time.
In Malta, studies have been made of structures and settlements close to ruts establishing correlations and timeframes.
It would appear that not all these ruts were made at the same time, and it is also possible that additions and extensions or adaptations occurred at later stages in time.
Traditionally viewed as cart ruts, the implication suggests they were intended to facilitate transportation, by default indicating a pathway to follow for would-be travellers.
This theory could stand well for a number of rut sets in several different areas, and this could have been their original purpose. They could also have been modified or adapted over the centuries by other cultures to this aim.
In other areas, the quantity, random scatter, physical location and dimensions cleary denote alternative usage. 
A better understanding of ancient agricultural techniques and evidence of ruts dug into the rock for this purpose has however been established.
Ruts have been found in Punico-Roman vine plantations which also contained channels for irrigation systems, water storage and control.
As with other local archeological features and aspects, many settlements were used and reused by different peoples over the millennia, all leaving their own imprint.
In times when everything was re-used and recycled time and again, it would be unusual for these ruts, or some of them at least, not to have undergone any alteration or adaptation to fit changing needs.
Other theories have been made, suggesting other uses and purposes, including mystical and pseudo-scientific attributions.
Most of the latter are a composition of fantasy and wishful thinking!

Notes & references:
The Archeology of Malta - Claudia Sagona
Science of Maltese Wine - Dr. Edward Duca