Tag Archives: Archaeology

Għar Dalam Cave and Museum | Birżebbuġa, Malta | September 2014

The initials GD on the wall stand for Giuseppe Despott, the first curator of natural history (1922-1933). He carried out a series of excavations inside Għar Dalam from 1912 to 1917. His claim to fame was the find of two Taurodont teeth believed tat the time to have belonged to Neanderthal man.

Information from:
Heritage Malta

© Tony Blood - GM. Għar Dalam Cave, Birżebbuġa, Malta, 23 September 2014

© Tony Blood – GM. Għar Dalam Cave, Birżebbuġa, Malta, 23 September 2014

Għar Dalam Cave and Museum | Birżebbuġa, Malta | September 2014

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.

Information from:
Web: http://heritagemalta.org/museums-sites/ghar-dalam/

© Tony Blood - Dwarf Elephant. Għar Dalam Cave, Birżebbuġa, Malta, 23 September 2014

© Tony Blood – Dwarf Elephant. Għar Dalam Cave, Birżebbuġa, Malta, 23 September 2014

© Tony Blood - Victorian Display. Għar Dalam Cave, Birżebbuġa, Malta, 23 September 2014

© Tony Blood – Victorian Display. Għar Dalam Cave, Birżebbuġa, Malta, 23 September 2014

© Tony Blood - Għar Dalam Cave, Birżebbuġa, Malta, 23 September 2014

© Tony Blood – Għar Dalam Cave, Birżebbuġa, Malta, 23 September 2014

Ta’ Ħaġrat Temples | Mġarr, Malta | 19 September 2014

Dating from 3600-3200 BC, the two Ta’ Hagrat temples are amongst the earliest temple buildings in Malta and are extremely well preserved.

The larger dates to 3600-3200 BC and the smaller to 3300-3000 BC. The plentiful pottery found at this site suggests that these two temples were built on top of an earlier village. Finds from this site include a unique discovery – a small limestone model of a building.

The larger temple is set in the middle of a large semicircular forecourt and the impressive façade with a monumental doorway was reconstructed in 1937. Two steps lead up to the main entrance and a corridor flanked by huge uprights of coralline limestone. The corridor beyond the entrance is paved with large stone blocks placed with great accuracy.

Information from:
Web: http://www.visitmalta.com/en/info/tahagrattemples

© Tony Blood - Ta' Ħaġrat Temples in Mġarr, Malta, 19 September 2014

© Tony Blood – Ta’ Ħaġrat Temples in Mġarr, Malta, 19 September 2014

© Tony Blood - Ta' Ħaġrat Temples in Mġarr, Malta, 19 September 2014

© Tony Blood – Ta’ Ħaġrat Temples in Mġarr, Malta, 19 September 2014

The National Museum of Archaeology | Valletta, Malta | 25 August 2014

The National Museum of Archaeology displays a significant array of artefacts from the Islands’ unique prehistoric periods, starting with the first arrival of man in 5200 BC, running up to 2500 BC. The first rooms trace man’s early settlement on the Islands up to the temple-building periods using a reconstruction of a rock-cut tomb. The collection includes obsidian cores and the Red Skorba figurines, which are predecessors of the temple period objects and statuary. The main hall is devoted to temple carvings and the collection continues with representations of animals, temple models, and the remarkable human figures. Of particular note are the exquisite figures of the ‘Sleeping Lady’ from the Hypogeum, and the ‘Venus’ of Hagar Qim. The last room exhibits some pottery from the temple period, together with tools, beads and other ornaments.

Information from:
Web: http://www.visitmalta.com/en/info/nationalmuseumofarchaeology

The National Museum of Archaeology is housed in the Auberge de Provence, in Republic Street, Valletta. The building, an example of fine Baroque architecture, was built in 1571 and followed a plan by local architect Ġilormu Cassar. The Auberge de Provence was house to the Knights of the Order of St John originating from Provence, France and displays beautiful architectural features. Of particular note is the Grand Salon, with its richly painted walls and wooden beamed ceiling. The Museum exhibits a spectacular range of artefacts dating back to Malta’s Neolithic period (5000 BC) up to the Phoenician Period (400 BC). On display are the earliest tools used by the prehistoric people to facilitate their daily tasks and representations of animal and human figures; elements which not only show the great artistic skills of the first dwellers of the island but also gives us an insight of their daily lives.

Highlights include the ‘Sleeping Lady’ from the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum, the ‘Venus of Malta’ from Ħaġar Qim, bronze daggers recovered from the Bronze Age layers at Tarxien Temples, and the Horus and Anubis pendant and the anthropomorphic sarcophagus, both belonging to the Phoenician Period. The Museum provides the visitor with a good introduction to the prehistory and early history of the Maltese Island sand acts as a catalyst to the other archaeological sites in Malta. Works are currently in progress to include another hall dedicated to the Punic period and others dedicated to the Roman and Byzantine periods in Malta.

Information from:
Web: http://heritagemalta.org/museums-sites/national-museum-of-archaeology/

© Tony Blood - The National Museum of Archaeology. Valletta Malta, 25 August 2014

© Tony Blood – The National Museum of Archaeology. Valletta Malta, 25 August 2014

© Tony Blood - Jug with floral decoration from Tal-Liedna (Terracotta). The National Museum of Archaeology. Valletta Malta, 25 August 2014

© Tony Blood – Jug with floral decoration from Tal-Liedna (Terracotta). The National Museum of Archaeology. Valletta Malta, 25 August 2014

The Phoenicians buried their dead in a variety of ways. One of these was to put the corpse inside a coffin. Fashioned in wood, terracotta stone, stone, and marble, coffins consisted of a casket and a lid, and were often shaped like a human figure, a practice that was very popular in pharaonic Egypt. The coffin on display here was found at Għar Barka on the outskirts of Rabat (Malta) in 1797. Lead poured inside the grooves on the side of the coffin was meant to hold the lid firmly in place. In the Phoenician homeland, members of the royal family were buried in similar coffins, often re-using ones brought over from Egypt. They would have inscriptions written on the lids to curse anyone who disturbed their eternal sleep. © Tony Blood - Phoenician Coffin. The National Museum of Archaeology. Valletta Malta, 25 August 2014

The Phoenicians buried their dead in a variety of ways. One of these was to put the corpse inside a coffin. Fashioned in wood, terracotta stone, stone, and marble, coffins consisted of a casket and a lid, and were often shaped like a human figure, a practice that was very popular in pharaonic Egypt. The coffin on display here was found at Għar Barka on the outskirts of Rabat (Malta) in 1797. Lead poured inside the grooves on the side of the coffin was meant to hold the lid firmly in place. In the Phoenician homeland, members of the royal family were buried in similar coffins, often re-using ones brought over from Egypt. They would have inscriptions written on the lids to curse anyone who disturbed their eternal sleep.
© Tony Blood – Phoenician Coffin. The National Museum of Archaeology. Valletta Malta, 25 August 2014

© Tony Blood - Silver plate with commemorative dedication to Sir Alexander Ball (1757-1809) (Silver). The National Museum of Archaeology. Valletta Malta, 25 August 2014

© Tony Blood – Silver plate with commemorative dedication to Sir Alexander Ball (1757-1809) (Silver). The National Museum of Archaeology. Valletta Malta, 25 August 2014

© Tony Blood - Bronze Dagger from Għar Mirdum (Bronze and Bone). The National Museum of Archaeology. Valletta Malta, 25 August 2014

© Tony Blood – Bronze Dagger from Għar Mirdum (Bronze and Bone). The National Museum of Archaeology. Valletta Malta, 25 August 2014

© Tony Blood - Sir Temi Zammit's notebook no. 11. The National Museum of Archaeology. Valletta Malta, 25 August 2014

© Tony Blood – Sir Temi Zammit’s notebook no. 11. The National Museum of Archaeology. Valletta Malta, 25 August 2014

© Tony Blood - Human Skull from the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum. The National Museum of Archaeology. Valletta Malta, 25 August 2014

© Tony Blood – Human Skull from the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum. The National Museum of Archaeology. Valletta Malta, 25 August 2014

© Tony Blood - Sleeping Lady from the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum. The National Museum of Archaeology. Valletta Malta, 25 August 2014

© Tony Blood – Sleeping Lady from the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum. The National Museum of Archaeology. Valletta Malta, 25 August 2014

© Tony Blood - Venus of Malta. The National Museum of Archaeology. Valletta Malta, 25 August 2014

© Tony Blood – Venus of Malta. The National Museum of Archaeology. Valletta Malta, 25 August 2014

Mnajdra Temples | Qrendi, Malta | 20 August 2014

MIDDLE TEMPLE ARCHITECTURE
The architecture of this temple is very simple when compared to the South Temple. A porthole slab leads to a small chamber built within the thickness of the temple wall.

Information from:
Heritage Malta

© Tony Blood - Mnajdra Temples. Qrendi, Malta, 20 August 2014

© Tony Blood – Mnajdra Temples. Qrendi, Malta, 20 August 2014

© Tony Blood - Mnajdra Temples. Qrendi, Malta, 20 August 2014

© Tony Blood – Mnajdra Temples. Qrendi, Malta, 20 August 2014

Statuette | Ħagar Qim Temples | Qrendi, Malta | 20 August 2014

STONE STATUETTES
A collection of four statuettes depicting obese figures were found below some steps during restoration works in 1949.

(These figurines are now on display at the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta).

Information from:
Heritage Malta

© Tony Blood - Statuette, Ħagar Qim Temples. Qrendi, Malta, 20 August 2014

© Tony Blood – Statuette, Ħagar Qim Temples. Qrendi, Malta, 20 August 2014

Mnajdra Temples | Qrendi, Malta | 20 August 2014

Mnajdra is found in an isolated position on a rugged stretch of Malta’s southern coast overlooking the isle of Fifla. It is some 500m away from Ħaġar Qim Temples. It consists of three buildings facing a common oval forecourt. The first and oldest structure dates to the Ġgantija phase (3600 – 3200 BC). The second structure to be built was the South Temple, constructed in the early Tarxien phase (3150 – 2500 BC). The Central Temple, inserted between the other two, was the last to be built. Remains to the north-east and south of these buildings indicate that these three structures are only the best preserved of a larger complex.

The South Temple has its entrance set in a concave monumental facade and leads to two rooms, or apses. On the left-hand side, a decorated porthole doorway (a square-shaped opening cut in the centre of a stone block) leads into a small chamber. The apse to the right has a small rectangular opening which connects it to a chamber within the thickness of the walls accessible only from the rear of the building and a porthole doorway at the top of a small flight of stairs leading into another small chamber. Within the latter chamber is a small niche accessed through a small porthole slab set within a trilithon. This arrangement features on the Maltese 5, 2 and 1 euro cent coins. The four horizontal courses at the top of the walls in this area are perhaps the best indication of what the building’s roof would have looked like.

Opposite the main entrance is the doorway to the second set of apses flanked by two large blocks decorated with small drilled holes. This doorway and the decorated blocks mark the position of the rising sun on the first day of spring and autumn (the Equinoxes) and the first day of summer and winter (the Solstices).

Mnajdra’s Central Temple is built on an artificial platform and has an unusual facade in that it has two doorways, a central porthole doorway and a second open doorway with a single step to its left. The first pair of rooms are built in well-finished smooth upright stone blocks supporting two horizontal courses. There is an engraving of a temple facade on a large upright next to the doorway into the inner apses. These apses hold a central covered niche and a porthole doorway in the left-hand apse, leading to a small chamber built into the thickness of the wall.

In the East Temple, the low rubble walls visible today are modern reconstructions; they follow the original plan of this structure as indicated by the torba (crushed limestone) floor which survived. The upright stone blocks in the main doorway and in the entrance to the central apse are original. Two of them retain several irregular lines of drilled holes which have been the focus of many studies and theories on their possible meaning.

Information from:
Web: http://heritagemalta.org/museums-sites/mnajdra-temples/

© Tony Blood - Mnajdra Temples. Qrendi, Malta, 20 August 2014

© Tony Blood – Mnajdra Temples. Qrendi, Malta, 20 August 2014

© Tony Blood - Mnajdra Temples. Qrendi, Malta, 20 August 2014

© Tony Blood – Mnajdra Temples. Qrendi, Malta, 20 August 2014

Tarxien Temples | Tarxien, Malta | 13 August 2014

The Tarxien Temples date from 3600-2500 BC and are the most complex of all temple sites in Malta, consisting of four megalithic structures.

The temples are renowned for the detail of their carvings, which include domestic animals carved in relief, altars, and screens decorated with spiral designs and other patterns. Of particular note is a chamber set into the thickness of the wall between the South and Central temples, which is famous for its relief of two bulls and a sow. The site seems to have been used extensively for rituals, which probably involved animal sacrifice.

Tarxien is also of great interest because it offers an insight into how the temples were constructed: stonerollers left outside the south temple were probably used for transporting the megaliths. Remains of cremation have also been found at the centre of the South temple at Tarxien, which indicates that the site was reused as a Bronze Age cremation cemetery.

Information from:
Web: http://www.visitmalta.com/en/info/tarxientemples

© Tony Blood - Pot. Tarxien Temples. Tarxien, Malta, 13 August 2014

© Tony Blood – Pot. Tarxien Temples. Tarxien, Malta, 13 August 2014

© Tony Blood - Tarxien Temples. Tarxien, Malta, 13 August 2014

© Tony Blood – Tarxien Temples. Tarxien, Malta, 13 August 2014

© Tony Blood - Entrance. Tarxien Temples. Tarxien, Malta, 13 August 2014

© Tony Blood – Entrance. Tarxien Temples. Tarxien, Malta, 13 August 2014

© Tony Blood - Tarxien Temples. Tarxien, Malta, 13 August 2014

© Tony Blood – Tarxien Temples. Tarxien, Malta, 13 August 2014

© Tony Blood - Tarxien Temples. Tarxien, Malta, 13 August 2014

© Tony Blood – Tarxien Temples. Tarxien, Malta, 13 August 2014

© Tony Blood - Tarxien Temples. Tarxien, Malta, 13 August 2014

© Tony Blood – Tarxien Temples. Tarxien, Malta, 13 August 2014

Tarxien Temples | Tarxien, Malta | 13 August 2014

This feature seems to have constituted a focal point in the South Temple. The lower half of the original was carved out of a single block of stone. The plugged cavity hewn within its decorated surface, served as a cubbyhole in which a number of Flint knives and burnt animal bones were found. The upper half of the alter was constructed with smaller slabs, creating a small space which contained burnt animal remains.

Information from:
Heritage Malta

© Tony Blood - Tarxien Temples. Tarxien, Malta, 13 August 2014

© Tony Blood – Tarxien Temples. Tarxien, Malta, 13 August 2014

Pjazza Teatru Rjal (Opera House) | Valletta, Malta | 22 July 2014

Pjazza Teatru Rjal, the open theatre on the ruins of the former Opera House in Valletta, was officially inaugurated in August 2013. The theatre forms part of the City Gate project designed by renowned italian architect Renzo Piano, whcih also incorporates the entrance to the city and the new parliament building. The theatre project included excavation to create changing rooms, wardrobes and space for equipment underground behind the theatre between the Church of Our Lady of Victory and Piazza de Valette. The remaining ruins of the old theatre were cleaned and restored, including the former ticket offices at the front, which until recently used to house small shops.

Information from:
Web: http://www.visitmalta.com/en/info/pjazza-teatru-rjal

© Tony Blood - Pjazza Teatru Rjal. Valletta Malta, 22 July 2014

© Tony Blood – Pjazza Teatru Rjal. Valletta Malta, 22 July 2014

© Tony Blood - Pjazza Teatru Rjal. Valletta Malta, 22 July 2014

© Tony Blood – Pjazza Teatru Rjal. Valletta Malta, 22 July 2014