Archeological Mysteries

Malta Cart Ruts: The Maltese Islands’ Unsolved Mystery

There are many archeological mysteries in the world and Malta has its fair share of them too. The most significant archeological mystery in Malta presents itself in the form of cart ruts.

Malta cart ruts are in abundance. In fact, it is believed that Malta has the largest amount of cart ruts in the world, since these ancient ruts can be found all over the place.

Even the tiny and uninhabited islet of Filfla is full of cart ruts!


archeological mysteries malta cart ruts


Archeological Mysteries: What are cart ruts?

Cart ruts are essentially deep parallel grooves which look a lot like ruts worn by cart wheels, hence the name.

The ruts are found on hard rock … no, make that very hard rock! And some go as far as 3 kms in a single stretch.

So how were they done? Are they man made or natural formations?

The first mystery which surrounds these cart ruts is the fact that the spacing of the ruts varies. Even their depth vary. Some of them are up to 60 cms deep! So let’s say they were formed from usage of carts, wouldn’t wheeled carts get jammed in such a deep trail?

Over the years, many have come up with theories about the origins of these Malta cart ruts, since everyone loves solving archeological mysteries.

Many seem to agree that these grooves were made by wheeled carts during the Bronze Age (2000 – 1400 BC), but if that was true … how come these ruts do not have any destination or pattern?

Some peter out, some disappear into the sea, some stop mysteriously at the edge of a cliff … some were even discovered underwater!

And to make things even more confusing, in some areas these ancient cart ruts cross over one another.

Now why is that?

And if something was being transported, what was being transported?

Again, many theories exist.

Some say they were transporting building stone, others think it was salt. Whatever it was, it surely was abundant and very heavy to leave marks like those! Plus it must have been worth the effort and hard work of carrying it from one place to the other.

Perhaps the most plausible theory would be topsoil. It could be that topsoil was being transported to make more areas on the Maltese islands cultivable and thus provide food for its ever growing population.

Even the period when they were formed is still debated. Some say it was during the Prehistoric Period, others during Bronze Age. Maybe one day, an important discovery would finally shed a light on when, why and how these Malta cart ruts were made.


Malta Cart Ruts: Where to see them?

They're practically all over the place, but for the densest network of cart ruts, head to Clapham Junction.

This area was named by British archeologists because they likened it to the railway lines at Clapham Juction station in London. Clapham Junction is located near Buskett Gardens (to the west).

Another nice area to see these cart ruts is at the Ta Cenc Cliffs in Gozo.

The Malta cart ruts mystery remains practically unsolved to this day.

Some say they were formed by wheeled carts, others ponder whether these ruts were simply water channels, while some declare that these ruts must have been made by aliens!

It’s quite possible that after you’ve seen and explored the Malta cart ruts for yourself, you will have your own theory of how these grooves were made.

Who knows, maybe you'd be able to solve one of Malta's most puzzling archeological mysteries :)


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