A farewell to Neo-Punic: Taċ-Ċagħqi revisited

By: Abigail Zammit and Robert M. Kerr

The alleged inscriptions in the south-east hypogeum of Taċ-Ċagħqi (within the premises of St Nicholas College in Rabat, Malta) were discussed in depth by Mons. Benedetto Rocco in 1972. Rocco interpreted the glyphs as Neo-Punic, with a long ‘inscription’ supposedly consisting of a prayer to appease the deceased through the offering of a gift, and an alleged minor ‘inscription’ addressing the dead to ‘rise’. These readings were discussed against the notion of possible libation rites that may have been a custom within the hypogeum, as suggested by the tomb furniture in situ. Rocco based his readings of the script and types of letters on his previous study of further alleged Punic and Neo-Punic inscriptions within cave sites in Palermo and Favignana (Sicily), in combination with semantic analysis of Biblical Hebrew. Nevertheless, the supposed Taċ-Ċagħqi inscriptions come across as ambiguous sets of glyphs that are illegible, and actually cannot be deemed Punic or Neo-Punic script.