Prehistoric Lines Across Malta - The Cart Ruts of Misrah Ghar il-Kbir

Prehistoric Lines Across Malta Defy Explanation: The Cart Ruts of Misrah Ghar il-Kbir

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The islands of Malta and Gozo in the Maltese archipelago are scarred with hundreds, if not thousands, of parallel lines seemingly cut deep into the stone. These ancient grooves have puzzled experts for centuries. Some of the strange tracks deliberately plunge off cliffs or continue off land and into the ocean. Who made these enigmatic tracks, and why?

The tracks are gouged into the rock, crisscrossing the islands, most notably at Misrah Ghar il-Kbir, a prehistoric cliff site on Malta. Like the impressive Nazca lines of Peru , or giant stone circles in the Middle East , the mysterious nature of the tracks has confounded researchers for years. However, unlike the desert markings done for ceremonial, or a divinely-directed purpose, the so-called “cart ruts” of Malta are thought to be indications of transportation or industry—railways of the ancient world.

The enigmatic cart ruts of Malta, at Misrah Ghar il-Kbir or “Clapham Junction”.

The enigmatic cart ruts of Malta, at Misrah Ghar il-Kbir or “Clapham Junction”. Ronny Siegel/ Flickr

Dubbed cart ruts due to their resemblance to tracks left by carts, it’s not known for certain how or why they were made. These clearly man-made ruts are dual channels, parallel grooves etched into the limestone bedrock of the islands. The channels measure about eight to 15 centimeters deep, but can be as deep as 60 centimeters. Width between the tracks extends about 140 centimeters, but not in all instances. The tracks measured at the San Gwann site in Malta are said to be half a meter in depth, making them the deepest to be found.


If correct, “it seems impossible that any vehicle – sled or wheeled – could be dragged along them as the platform/axle would have to be over 1 or 2 meters high,” notes an article by

Some of the ruts are narrow and deep, squared off as if cut with tools, while others are wide, V shaped, and shallow, as if worn away by time and use. Does this indicate different vehicles for different uses, or does it simply mean the tracks have been weather-worn differently?

Wide, flat-bottomed tracks at Malta.

Wide, flat-bottomed tracks at Malta. Dirk Heitepriem/ Flickr

The purpose of the ruts seem to defy explanation, as some tracks surprisingly travel directly off cliff edges, or up and down very steep ridges, and some even drive off the island and into the sea, continuing underwater.

The ruts are so prevalent at Misrah Ghar il-Kbir that the location has been nicknamed “Clapham Junction” by an Englishman named David Trump. The ruts there are so numerous and seem to cause such a traffic jam that they resemble the complex network of tracks found at the busy railway station switching yard in London, England.

The tangle of tracks at Clapham switching yard, London, England.

The tangle of tracks at Clapham switching yard, London, England. Tadie88/ Flickr

Cart Ruts in Misrah Ghar il-Kbir, Malta.

Cart Ruts in Misrah Ghar il-Kbir, Malta. Wikimedia Commons

Similar types of tracks can be found in Italy, Greece, Turkey, Spain, France and Germany, but they’re not of the same origins and were created for different and known purposes. Some of those tracks were built purposefully with masonry, and some of the patterns were caused by natural erosion on wagon tracks. These differences make the Malta tracks unique in the world.

Archaeologists presume the ruts in Malta were made by repeated use of carts, skids or sleds (wheeled or on runners) going over the same route over decades or centuries. It’s thought that goods may have been transported using this system. Still others wonder if the deliberate channels were a prehistoric irrigation system stretching across the islands. A less accepted theory suggest the lines served an astronomical purpose.

Further complicating the matter is how the carts were moved. If animals were used to draw the carts, their footprints might be evident between or outside the parallel grooves, but there’s no evidence of that. Some researchers thus imagine the carts were pulled or pushed by humans.

It is speculated the lines were left by new settlers who came to Malta from Sicily at the beginning of the Bronze Age, about 2000 B.C. However, Maltese archaeologist Anthony Bonanno theorizes that the ruts are Phoenician constructions, which would date them to the more recent seventh century B.C.

The mysterious lines are connected by some researchers to the amazing temples of Malta. It is thought that the tracks might be the remaining evidence of how the temples were built. Could it be that the sleds were used to transport heavy quarried rock from far off to the temple sites?


the gatekeepers of archaeological conventional wisdom always think with the modern mind and within the confines of that "we are better and know more than the ancients did" mindset. They cannot possibly think outside of their little box. They must be ruts. What else could they possibly be? They end at the edges of cliffs. Oh my heavens! What could that possibly mean? They must be from 2000BC cut by sleds carrying the monoliths of the temples. They could not possibly be older OR anything else...........

Puny theories by puny 21st century minds.

So what do you think they are? I mean, you’re not wrong, but you neither bring up your own hypothesis nor do you make a specific argument against those of others. So unless your real name is Captain Obvious….

Greyface lives!

This comment by AKHENATEN is purely GENIUS!! This person is brilliant!! Way to go, AKHENATEN!! I couldn't agree more!

I bet there track lines for ships. They build the ships in the industrial part of the cities much like we do today but when the ships are done there pushed along the tracks to to water and launched.

Unfortunately there is a large drop of 100feet plus to the sea.

Well, I agree this is rather confusing and goes against my hypothesis, but let's not forget, there IS tracks running directly into the sea. One possibility for the 100 foot dropping is it could have simply broken off from the rest of the island and fallen into the sea.

It would make sense to build the ships close to the water. It does not make sense to build a ship on top of the hill and then bring the whole thing in one piece over a longer path. It is easier to carry the components - is what we do nowadays too.

On the other hand we do not know how old are these tracks are. We assume. The tracks could have been above the sea level when created if these are 2-3 times older then assumed.

Well, don't tell that to the people who have boats parked in their driveways. Your thinking of modern ships that are to big to move over land. Back then it was common according to the archeological record to move their ships over long stretches of land. Most ships were no bigger than modern fishing trawlers are today.
There cities may have been built close to whatever resources they needed at the time.
Building cities close to water back then opened the city to being attacked to piracy.

Vlad, I think you judge the tracks from the couple of pictures available here.
Look at some additional pictures:

Example the Naxxar group pictures a bit lower down the page. Those parallel long tracks do not make sense in view of the "ship to sea" explanation.
See also "Clapham Junction" further down the site. What a bunch of idiots to make 20 parallel tracks cut in stone to carry easy ships to the sea. Cutting in stone those tracks would take much longer then building a boat I guess. And they do not ran together or flow logically in a junction they just ran crazy down the hill and some criss-cross.

Btw I have not seen such cart-rutes in Scandinavia where we have a tradition of shipbuilding seafaring nation, but similar routes can be seen in the middle of Turkey far far away from the sea.

Lars, thank you for the link and additional information. I concede to your point and your correct in that I was relying on the Author to provide UNbiased information in the article. A combination of slow internet and to much alternate research had led to my sloppy hypothesis.

Vlad, thank you for your feedback!
I am thankful to the author(s) for bringing this, as many other very interesting history facts for review. A post has limited space and is unfortunately not exhaustive of the subject.

I still have found no explanation for the tracks and as John Oakley said below: "could it be that these "cart tracks" ...were formed when the rock was still soft and forming?"
The ship explanation was a reasonable one, but I understand we agree it does not stand when looking at the whole picture.

If your connection allows - I understand it is slow :( - and you are interested in further tracks, maybe you can also have a look at the youtube link I posted the 24th below.
If one looks there at the 4:57 mark or 12:46 it just looks like the tracks were done by "something" when the rock was soft.
Indeed very intriguing and interesting tracks :)

Hey Lars, your closer to the answer than I was originally.
I remembered something I learned years ago from my grandfather who was heavy into geology. Limestone is nothing more than lime and calcified material. Lime itself never truly hardens. It was often used as morter in castle building for this exact reason.
Basically if enough moisture (especially with acid such as acid rain) absorbs into the lime, it can become malleable like clay.
Unfortunately that means the track's could have been made anytime.
I hope this helps some.
Here is a link to the geology of malta that may be of interest.

"Basically if enough moisture (especially with acid such as acid rain) absorbs into the lime, it can become malleable like clay."
Hey Vlad, thanks for that.

"Unfortunately that means the track's could have been made anytime."

It seem like some tracks were used for excavations. That would makes sense: if I need stone for a temple I would happily use some which are already partially cut. So the tracks must be older then the excavations.
Another interesting point is that the tracks go under the sea level. The sea level rose between 20 k and 8-7 k years ago (continuing to now but at a much slower level)
Depending how deep the tracks go under the sea these must be older then the respective time - at least older then 7-8 k years.
Now for acid rain, I think a volcano would do it? If such is the case, if I search the list of big volcanic eruptions:
The eruption needs to be large enough to create acid rain in Malta and Turkey (or else there could be separate eruptions too/different time for the tracks). I take Vei 6 erruptions in Europe:
We get to Santorini 1610 BC, however the minoan eruption may be too late for the temple excavations and the sea level points.
Mount Vesuvius 2420 BC (Avellino eruption)
Mount Vesuvius 6940 BC (Mercato eruption) - could be a good candidate - depending how deep the tracks go under the actual sea level
Mount Vesuvius again 16300 BC (Campanian volcanic arc)
Campi Flegrei 35 k BC - This was a Vei 7 explosion, but here we are already to the time of the Neaderthals. Not sure how realistic is to go so far.

Another intriguing point with the tracks is that they are wide, seem to have been produced in the rock at one pass and there are no traces of animals or human pulling those tracks

When I was replying the last time I had Vesuvius in mind, my thought had been along the lines of if fallout from Vesuvius was occurring and a mass exodus at the same time but I don't think so. As you pointed out there is no foot prints nor horse or livestock tracks would seem to indicate a more modern means of transportation. What we may be seeing is results of modern pollution in the atmosphere causing acid rain and modern vehicles. That would seem to fit except for the tracks running into the water and off a cliff. The tracks going off the cliff can be explained via erosion but not into the water. I would like to know how deep those tracks go into the water. If there relatively close to the waters edge then they can be explained by being used by locals as a boat ramp or something but not if there depth goes to far. Unfortunately I haven't seen any reliable pictures to say one way or another. Maybe someone reading this has some?

"What we may be seeing is results of modern pollution in the atmosphere causing acid rain and modern vehicles. That would seem to fit "
Except that, we know the tracks are older then modern times. From the article above:
"He also quotes Sanzio from 1776, who wrote that 'In several maritime sites around the island of Malta, one could see deep cart ruts in the rock that extended for long distances into the sea'."
"He then adds that in 1912, R. N. bradley commented on cart ruts near Hagar Qim - noting that they ran "over the precipitous edge of the cliff towards Filfla""
Modern cars appeared only after.

Which means there's something wrong with evidence collection.
Your either GOING to have prints or your not. One leads to one conclusion or the other.
All the evidence points to it being tracks so that avenue is set.

One reason for the point of my last post is it doesn't mean ALL the tracks were laid at the same time. What I was trying to say was you may have the bulk of the tracks from modern times but still have older tracks from ancient times. Like I said, there has to be some evidence that's been missed. Forgive me for not being clearer.

That's not unfortunately, that's "quality control" :)

Unfortunately there is a large drop of 100feet plus to the sea.

There is the fact the limestone is susceptile to erosion, and over the time periods been involved, there is good chance that alot of land has been lost through the natural process of weathering and erosion because of the sea


Looks like train tracks avant la lettre. Partially cut out, partially caused by heavy - stone? - wheels. So the people didn't have to go with their heavy - megaliths/ships/etc. - over the bumpy stone surface.
Maybe the tracks were partly filled with soft en greasy stuff to smoothen the tracks even further.

My first thought was that these were irrigation channels , but it seems like if that were the case there would be more of a pattern. I’m guessing they were tracks of some kind as suggested by the article; but they are older than the article believes allowing time for what were once functional ruts to become confusingly deep by water erosion.

Greyface lives!

They're certainly not cart tracks, a ridiculous notion. The lines are of different depths and widths. Carts cannot navigate tracks with varying widths, it's impossible. So, what are they? Who knows. So called scientists do not know, and it's possible we may never know. Just another fun mystery to ponder.

Thank you, very interesting article.
At first glance some look like tracks in the mud made by a vehicle, maybe somebody just had his off-road fun...
Not only Malta, there are more tracks that defy simple explanations, for instance these tracks from Phrygia Valley in Turkey look very intriguing to me, also due to the "scratches" on the sides:

I don’t know much about these lines, but since they continue underwater I think a reasonable hypothesis would be that they were cut before the last major rise in sea levels.

That's a very reasonable hypothesis. I also wonder how much of the Atlantis myth this island led to if any?

Could it be that these "cart tracks" are much, much older than currently thought to be, and the tracks were formed when the rock was still soft and forming?

I know nothing about the surrounding geography and land topography of these, or any of the other similar “tracks” elsewhere in the world; but at a guess, I’d think that they could have been used as a form of bearing race. Perhaps to transport heavy stone from a local quarry, to go off in different directions.

The ones which seem to run off the cliff, could have had a, long since rotted away, wooden structure to act as a loading dock / pulley lowering system, which might assist in helping to load stone onto awaiting ships?

Loose spheres, or broad flat sided wheels (which could account for the flat bottoms) made of wood or stone, could be dropped into the races and large heavy objects might have been moved around with relative ease?

But hey, I’m neither a scientist, nor an archaeologist, so what do I know?

I have also seen pictures where these ruts run right up to and under the foundations of some of the ancient buildings.So if they know how old the buildings are,the ruts should be older because they were there when the temples were biult over top of them.

I’m curious about all these things in Malta as I’ve not heard about this! I read “everything” about the ancient world as I believe whomever was here before us, were much more advanced than we will EVER BE! 

There is no mention in the article above as to whether or not, these “cart ruts” (which I highly doubt a “cart wheel” made) are level, or leading from higher ground to lower ground? Do they have any kind of dimensioning in common? Is the spacing equal throughtout? Do they “align” with other monuments in the world, like Stonehenge, the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Mexican Volcano, or 19.51 degrees?

What is exactly opposite these features on the other side of the world?


Since we have temple around and since they have probably found some artifacts , why we could not have the oldest occupation date on that island…?                                                                   So after we got a clear answer on the 0000 BC date i will be please to give my point of view even if it could just blow your mind ...




Ok now i could prove what they were use for We have to go back at least before 10,000 BC and I could tell you that it will part of what we know(not much) about the period 10,000 BC to 35,000 BC Most of the archaeologist word on Greece,Italy,Egypt in fact were there is a lot of artifacts to find.For the last 44 years nobody have done search on Stonehenge…???

This is so strange So with 3 pictures i could explain those cart ruts,and that will change for ever your mind

a possible explanation for 'cart ruts'....from "These Were The Greeks" by H.D. Amos and A.G.P. Lang; Dufour Editions, Inc., published 1979, reprinted 1997; pg.9, 2nd paragraph, "Although the Corinthians built a paved roadway across the Isthmus, with grooves for wheels on which ships could be transported, it was usually necessary for travellers to and from the west side of Greece to make the long voyage round the Peloponnese."


As of March 21 2016 the history book will have to change at least regarding before 10,000 BC

This application do not let image download , image will explain the use of those cart ruts once and for all So just twit or fb to me

Matt Ferko's picture

I sent you a message through here, I’d like to talk to you about this. I know what you mean. 


I really don’t mind talking about this….so question...observation are welcome

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