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keithisco

Maltese Cart-ruts (?)..

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Posted (edited)

Mysterious parallel lines that criss - cross Malta and Gozo in the Mediterranean have defied explanation for centuries:

The island of Malta is scored by numerous examples of ancient cart ruts, they have been the subject of debate for hundreds of years, and their origin, form and function continues to arouse interest to this day

There are several distinct 'sets' of cart-ruts on both Malta and neighbouring Gozo. Cart-ruts have been found underwater around the islands too.

Certain physical features of the ruts, combined with a lack of informative evidence concerning their function has led to a variety of speculative theories.

Source (Ancient-wisdom): http://www.ancient-w...ltacartruts.htm

Edited by keithisco

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I don't care for their logic. 'They' say that the ruts must be from heavy loads and then dismiss that as there was no justification given the directions - how the heck could they know what exactly might or might not be transported and from/to where? It seems this article is determined to set up a mystery of great proportions, by being incredulous...

And the basic assumption appears to be wrong - this is limestone which when wet will easily form ruts even from a light cart.. Eg here (now on Wayback..)

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I don't care for their logic. 'They' say that the ruts must be from heavy loads and then dismiss that as there was no justification given the directions - how the heck could they know what exactly might or might not be transported and from/to where? It seems this article is determined to set up a mystery of great proportions, by being incredulous...

And the basic assumption appears to be wrong - this is limestone which when wet will easily form ruts even from a light cart.. Eg here (now on Wayback..)

I think the fact that many of these ruts are not actually parallel, vary in distance between them, and in depth, is kinda "odd". Some were almost certainly used as irrigation, or for filling cisterns with water. Some were definitely used as quarry runs. The majority appear to serve no real function at all...but time is the great obscurer of function.

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Posted (edited)

Travois? You don't need wheels - or even draft animals - to carry loads and the travois isn't unknown in stone-age cultures. Wood embedded with grit would wear grooves in stone pretty quickly, I suspect.

Edited by PersonFromPorlock
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Here's a 2008 paper on the subject (downloadable PDF).

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I'd first ask, "what's the geology in the area"?

The rock is limestone, and that looks very much like weathering between limestone layers. Because ocean beds are laid down in fairly even layers, you can get miles and miles of parallel "tracks."

What makes me suspect limestone is that the "tracks" are found underwater (that, and the "blocks" in the track.)

Here's a couple of examples:

http://www.habitas.org.uk/escr/photo.asp?item=0157c

http://d32ogoqmya1dw8.cloudfront.net/images/research_education/trail_guides/tilted_beds_sacagawea.v2_300.jpg

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Malta is basically a lump of limestone in the Mediterranean and only covers just over 300 square kilometres (including the outlying islands of Gozo and Comino).

Being a rocky lump it has stone absolutely everywhere. It boasts what is reputedly the world's oldest free-standing dry stone temple, Ggantija on Gozo; dry stone walls everywhere; and a plethora of active and disused quarries, dating back to Roman times. Most of the quarries (including more modern ones) are little more than rectangular holes (deep, but small coverage) carved out of the rock, and the number has to be seen to be believed.

Malta has two types of limestone, globerigina and coralline. The globerigina (mostly to the south) often found as large flaky slabs, is a softer rock, relatively easy to work and has formed the bulk of Malta's building material over the years. The harder, more crystalline, coralline stone found more to the North and on Gozo has been used on the more important buildings.

Source

Harte

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Posted (edited)

The paper linked by Windopane does seem to indicate that it was indeed wheel ruts, though I don't know that could explain them all, like the ones on steep hills.

Edited by Bennu

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It seems really interesting. Is there any reasoning given why anyone would travel over these rocks often enough to carve ruts? You'd need to go over that rock like, what, tens of thousands of times to gouge into that stone like that? I don't buy it being stone layer related either, as the ruts seem to wander around. I could buy them being drainage, but the photos given don't show anything that would require water channels in such a way.

Very mysterious.

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To haul fish (*and other cargo from boats?) up from the shoreline... and the Old shoreline??

Edited by lightly

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I've seen the tracks many times while holidaying in Malta. I was told that they were from Roman times and connected to the extensive quarrying, (some of the quarries are very large and deep and there seem to be a lot of them). I could easily imagine a cart laden with a few limestone blocks would be heavy enough to wear tracks like those seen, and the PDF. linked above does show tracks radiating away from quarry sites.

I see that rainfall is necessary, and while I am not sure what the Mediterranean climate was like back in the early iron age through to Roman times I have experienced heavy rainfall in winter and autumn on the island.

It's a fascinating place and one I'd recommend to anyone.

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