Department of Classics and Archaeology, University of Malta.
Special thanks to the head of department Dr Carmel Serracino.
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Lecture: Place names & terms related to frontier terminology from the Arab conquest period, 7th-10th Century: comparative history & archaeology around the Mediterranean and the Maltese Islands
16 May @ 6:00 PM
Lecture by Fr Eugene P. Teuma OFM Conv., independent researcher.
Recording and interpreting place-names can lead us to discover new and tantalizing facts and realities from a possibly “dark” or little known period. Comparing and contrasting terms/place-names and their original meaning can throw light on a country’s past.
The Arab Conquest from Arabia to Spain and Portugal was a centuries-long advancement. The Arabs were introducing new place-names and adapting them to their “world” view. By marking frontiers (Atarf) with recognizable names they defined territory that lay within or outside their control.
Some names are: Rabat (fort on frontier), Qala (fort), Borg (fortified perimeter/ruin), Dar As-Salam (residence of peace/Islam), Medina (city), Dar ir-Rum (residence of the Greek Orthodox Christians), Dar il-Ħerb (residence of “moral” and “factual” ruin).
We find this progress (military and otherwise) enshrined in place names throughout the conquered territories including the Maltese Archipelago. In most regions only vague or isolated terms survive. Incredibly, the Maltese islands still preserve a vast array of such toponomical terms frozen in time and original context. Deciphering them may make a, presently, murky historical/archaeological picture, comprehensible.
Photo: Monastir – Ribat