The return of the Ras il-Wardija graffito is an important development. Every loss of a cultural resource is a big loss for Maltese culture in particular. The cultural resources of Gozo and Malta are very limited, and require more protection on every level of policy, conservation as well as those protective measures undertaken by the authorities together with the Police Department.
There remains the fact however, that unique non-renewable resources, such as cultural heritage resources, belong to the public and serve mainly to give additional value to our lives. Without culture, built in part on the foundations of objects, monuments, works of art and others, a nation is poor and without roots.
The carving from Ras il-Wardija now forms part of the national collection of cultural heritage and will be on permanent display at the Gozo Museum of Archaeology.
Ras il-Wardija, located in the West South-West of Ghawdex, is one of the most spectacular locations in the Maltese islands. The strategic location of the site was used for thousands of years.
Cart ruts carved in the rock in the vicinity suggest that the site’s environs were used during the Bronze Age, after 1500BC, if not earlier. In Punic times the scenic beauty of the site served as a background for a sanctuary, perhaps a nympheum. The isolated location, highly visible from the sea and from other coastal locations in Gozo and Malta, may have also served as a landmark for mariners sailing the sea between the Maltese islands and North Africa.
A number of cruciform carvings on the sanctuary’s walls suggest that the use of the site changed after the arrival of Christianity in the Maltese islands.
The toponym ‘wardija’ means a look-out post, a station or a post for guards, especially along the coast.
Even during World War II, the area was used for the defence of the islands.