Tag Archives: Heritage Malta

Ġgantija Temples | Xagħra, Gozo | 1 October 2014

Ġgantija

The awe-inspiring megalithic complex of Ġgantija was erected in three stages over a period of several hundred years (c.3600-3000 BC) by the community of farmers and herders inhabiting the small and isolated island of Gozo (Malta) at the centre of the Mediterranean.

Ġgantija consists of two temple units built side by side, enclosed within a single massive boundary wall, and sharing the same facade. Both temples have a single and central doorway, opening onto a common and spacious forecourt that is in turn raised on a high terrace. Rituals of life and fertility seem to have been practiced within these precincts, while the sophisticated architectural achievements reveal that something really exceptional was taking place in the Maltese Islands more than five thousand years ago.

This complex stayed in use for about one thousand years, down to the mid third millennium BC, when the Maltese Temple Culture disappeared abruptly and mysteriously. Eventually, the successive inhabitants of the Early Bronze Age (2500-1500 BC) adopted the site as a cremation cemetery.

Information from:
Heritage Malta

© Tony Blood - Ġgantija Temples, Xagħra, Gozo, 1 October 2014

© Tony Blood – Ġgantija Temples, Xagħra, Gozo, 1 October 2014

© Tony Blood - Ġgantija Temples, Xagħra, Gozo, 1 October 2014

© Tony Blood – Ġgantija Temples, Xagħra, Gozo, 1 October 2014

Skull | Ġgantija Temples | Xagħra, Gozo | 1 October 2014

SKULL found at the Xagħra Circle. This is the skull of a woman, which was studied by forensic experts in order to recreate what she looked like when she was alive in the Neolithic.

Information from:
Heritage Malta

The Xagħra Stone Circle is an underground funerary complex, situated in Xagħra on the Maltese island of Gozo. It was first discovered by John Otto Bayer in the 1820s and rediscovered in 1964 after Gozitan researcher Joe Attard Tabone examined a painting by Charles Brochtorff in the National Library in Valletta. The site was excavated by a joint team from the University of Malta, the Maltese Museums Department and the University of Cambridge. The excavation uncovered the burial ground of the same community which practiced its rituals in the nearby Ggantija Temples, dating principally to the period from 3000 to 2500 BC. The most notable discoveries include more than 200,000 human bones and prehistoric art relating to the builders of the prehistoric Maltese temples. An earlier chambered tomb on site dates to the period between 4100 and 3800 BC.

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

© Tony Blood - Skull. Ġgantija Temples, Xagħra, Gozo, 1 October 2014

© Tony Blood – Skull. Ġgantija Temples, Xagħra, Gozo, 1 October 2014

Graffiti | Ġgantija Temples | Xagħra, Gozo | 1 October 2014

On both sides of the doorway, two well-finished megaliths are covered in graffiti, some of which date back to the early 1800s. For many years, visitors incised their names or initials on the stone, gravely damaging the surface of many megaliths in the temples.

Information from:
Heritage Malta

© Tony Blood - Graffiti. Ġgantija Temples, Xagħra, Gozo, 1 October 2014

© Tony Blood – Graffiti. Ġgantija Temples, Xagħra, Gozo, 1 October 2014

Xagħra Circle | Ġgantija Temples | Xagħra, Gozo | 1 October 2014

RITUALS OF THE DEAD
Rituals at the Xaghra Circle was probably different from that at Ġgantija, because it involved the dead. The excavations of the site proved that burial rituals and rites changed. Some skeletons were found intact, but later in the Temple Period, skulls or long-bones were separated and buried in special pits. This suggests that the living may have returned to their dead relatives and performed secondary-burial rituals after some time had passed since their death. This, together with evidence of cremation during the Bronze Age at other sites, bears witness to the variety of death rituals performed throughout Maltese prehistory.

Information from:
Heritage Malta

© Tony Blood - Xagħra Circle. Ġgantija Temples, Xagħra, Gozo, 1 October 2014

© Tony Blood – Xagħra Circle. Ġgantija Temples, Xagħra, Gozo, 1 October 2014

Salt Pans | Selmun, Mellieħa, Malta | 30 September 2014

Salt is a very good preservative of foodstuffs and here small salt-pans were constructed by private families towards that end. In 1930 the Calafáto company took over this area at Blata and changed it into larger salt-pans, using the salt in it’s animal hides’ tanning factory at Marsa. These bath-shaped salt-pans lead sea water from one to the other by gravity. They were still in use up to the eighties of the last century when a big storm caused irreparable damage to them.

Information from:
Rural Development Programme for Malta 2007-2013
The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development
Europe Investing in Rural Areas

© Tony Blood - Salt Pans. Selmun, Mellieħa, Malta, 30 September 2014

© Tony Blood – Salt Pans. Selmun, Mellieħa, Malta, 30 September 2014

© Tony Blood - Salt Pans. Selmun, Mellieħa, Malta, 30 September 2014

© Tony Blood – Salt Pans. Selmun, Mellieħa, Malta, 30 September 2014

© Tony Blood - Salt Pans. Selmun, Mellieħa, Malta, 30 September 2014

© Tony Blood – Salt Pans. Selmun, Mellieħa, Malta, 30 September 2014

© Tony Blood - Salt Pans. Selmun, Mellieħa, Malta, 30 September 2014

© Tony Blood – Salt Pans. Selmun, Mellieħa, Malta, 30 September 2014

© Tony Blood - Salt Pans. Selmun, Mellieħa, Malta, 30 September 2014

© Tony Blood – Salt Pans. Selmun, Mellieħa, Malta, 30 September 2014

© Tony Blood - Salt Pans. Selmun, Mellieħa, Malta, 30 September 2014

© Tony Blood – Salt Pans. Selmun, Mellieħa, Malta, 30 September 2014

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

Body Armour | The Palace Armoury | Valletta, Malta | 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood - The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood – The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood - The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood – The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood - The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood – The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood - The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood – The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood - The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood – The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood - The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood – The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

The Palace Armoury | Valletta, Malta | 18 September 2014

The Palace Armoury is one of the world’s largest collections of arms and armour that is still housed in its original building. The Knights of St John were a unique brotherhood of resolute warrior monks. From Malta, their island stronghold, these combatant aristocrats from the noblest houses of Europe, carried out their relentless crusade against the Ottoman Turks in defence of the Catholic faith. The Palace Armoury is certainly one of the most visible and tangible symbols of the past glories of the Sovereign Hospitaller Military Order of Malta.

Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt transferred the Order’s arsenal to the Magisterial Palace in 1604 where it was the pride of the Order. Apart from being lavishly adorned with elaborate trophies of arms, it held enough arms and armour to equip thousands of soldiers. It was housed in the magnificent hall at the rear of the building, right above its present location. At present, it is displayed inside two halls that were originally the stables of the palace.

Following the forced departure of the Order of St. John from Malta, the armoury somehow lost much of its original grandeur. However, it was restored and was officially opened as Malta’s first public museum in 1860. Although only a fraction of its original splendour remains, the Armoury still contains abundant material of Italian, German, French and Spanish origin from principal production centres. Also displayed is an exotic selection of Islamic and Ottoman arms and armour. Apart from the massed arms of the common soldiers in the collection, the enriched personal armours of the nobility still manage to make a statement.

Information from:
Web: http://heritagemalta.org/museums-sites/the-palace-armoury/

© Tony Blood - The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood – The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

Helmets | The Palace Armoury | Valletta, Malta | 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood - The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood – The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood - The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood – The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood - The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood – The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood - The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood – The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood - The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood – The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood - The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 September 2014

© Tony Blood – The Palace Armoury. Valletta, Malta, 18 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

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

Blue Grotto | Qrendi, Malta | 20 August 2014

This natural picturesque grotto and its neighbouring system of caverns mirrors the brilliant phosphorescent colours of the underwater flora.

The Blue Grotto is located near “Wied iz-Zurrieq” south of the town of Qrendi. A number of caves, including the Blue Grotto, which is the biggest one, can be reached by boat from Wied iz-Zurrieq. From Wied iz-Zurrieq one can also see the small island of Filfa. Filfla is uninhabited except for a unique species of lizards that live there. When Malta was a British colony, the island of Filfla was used for target practice by the British Armed Forces. The island is now protected under Maltese law.

The scenery around this area of the island is breathtaking. The cliffs rise out of the blue Mediterranean and the froth of the waves as they hit the rock face can make for some excellent shots.

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

© Tony Blood - Blue Grotto. Qrendi, Malta, 29 September 2014

© Tony Blood – Blue Grotto. Qrendi, Malta, 29 September 2014

Ħagar Qim Temples | Qrendi, Malta | 20 August 2014

TEMPLE ROOFING
The remains of a roof can be found inside the chambers. The horizontal courses above the upright slabs protrude over the one beneath. These courses are the remains of the base of a corbelled roof, the type of construction that may have originally been used to roof over parts of the temple.

Information from:
Heritage Malta

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

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

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

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