Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Dr.Themistocles Zammit (1864-1935)

Sir Temi Zammit was born in Valletta on the 30th September 1864 at a time when Malta was an important British naval base and died 2 November 1935 with obituary notices in Malta and England. His parents were illiterate and yet they succeeded to nurture his thirst for knowledge and his ability to triumph in spite of all the obstacles he faced.

During his time, extreme poverty alternated with periods of economic prosperity that were often brought about by war.

After studying at the Lyceum and the University of Malta he obtained the degree of Doctor of Medicine in 1889. In 1905 he was appointed Professor of Chemistry in the same University, of which he was also appointed Rector in 1920.

Dr Temi Zammit name gained renown as a result of his archaeological excavations of prehistoric sites in the Maltese Islands and also of his scholarly writings on the material found on such sites. He was one of the key persons to promote Maltese archaeology in the early 20th century.

In September 1896 he made the earliest Xray photograph taken in Malta, of a human hand – probably his own.

His first recorded experiments with Mediterranean or Malta Fever (now Brucellosis) modified the Widal precipitation test where bacteria and sera are mixed in a tube. On 14 June 1905, Temi Zammit, found that five out of six goats reacted to the blood test for brucellosis, then known as Mediterranean or Malta Fever. The work of Temi Zammit showed that infected goats transmitted brucellosis and that banning use of their milk would be effective.

In 1902 he made the first survey of brucellosis in civilians in Malta, comparing it with typhoid fever and concluding that it might be insect borne.

He served as the rector of the Royal University of Malta for some years, and also as the director of the National Museum. Author of several books in the Maltese language, he was awarded a DLitt Honoris Causa by Oxford University.
Dr.Themistocles Zammit (1864-1935)

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