Għar Dalam’s relevance as a prehistoric site was discovered in the latter half of the 19th Century with a series of excavations unearthing animal bones as well as human remains and artifacts. The Cave is a highly important site for its Palaeontology, archaeology and ecology.
The history of the cave and that of the Islands can be decoded from Għar Dalam’s stratigraphy. The lowermost layers, more than 500,000 years old, contained the fossil bones of dwarf elephants, hippopotami, micro-mammals and birds among other species. This layer is topped by a pebble layer, and on top of it there is the so-called ‘deer’ layer, dated to around 18,000 years ago. The top layer, or ‘cultural layer’, dates less than 10,000 years and holds evidence of the first humans on the Island. It was here that the earliest evidence of human settlement on Malta, some 7,400 years ago, was discovered.
The site consists of a cave, a Victorian style exhibition and a didactic display as well as a garden planted with indigenous plants and trees.
Ghar Dalam forms part of the Natura 2000 network of protected sites which includes Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) of International Importance and Special Protection Areas (SPA). This conservation status is due to a small population of endemic cave woodlouse (Armadillidium ghardalamensis) and a roosting site for the Lesser Horse-shoe Bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros).