Tag Archives: Temples

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

Skorba Temples | Żebbiegħ Mġarr, Malta | 19 September 2014

The site of Skorba lies in the hamlet of Żebbiegħ, on the outskirts of Mġarr, overlooking the nearby valley and providing a spectacular view of the surrounding landscape.

Excavated by David Trump in the early 1960s, quite late when compared to other similar sites, this temple is unique for providing crucial evidence concerning the domestic aspect of the prehistoric people, including the temple builders themselves. This archaeological site includes the remains of two megalithic temple structures, one of which dates from the earliest phase of megalithic construction – the Ġgantija Phase, while the other was constructed at a later stage in prehistory, that is, the Tarxien Phase.

In addition, there are also the remains of several domestic huts, in which the prehistoric temple builders used to dwell. Some structures date from before the Temple Period (i.e. before 3600 BC), and therefore, are amongst the oldest constructed structures on the Maltese Islands. Scientific studies on these structures have provided crucial evidence on the life-sustaining resources which were available at the time and have also thrown light on the dietary patterns of the prehistoric people.

The archaeological value of the site and its contribution to our understanding of Maltese prehistory, were recognised by the international community and by UNESCO in 1992, when it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List along with five other temple sites on the islands. In the words of David Trump himself, this site was not only as important as any of the others for the part it played in uncovering the whole prehistory of Malta, [but] it was more important than all the others put together.

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

© Tony Blood - Skorba Temples, Żebbiegħ, Mġarr, Malta, 19 September 2014

© Tony Blood – Skorba Temples, Żebbiegħ, Mġarr, Malta, 19 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

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

A stone block with two carved spirals blocks the entrance into the second set of apses of the Central Temple. In the doorway, as in many other doorways on site, there are pairs of interconnected holes on opposite sides. These indicate points where screens or doors could have been used to close off physical access, or even visibility, to what was happening in certain parts of the temple.

Information from:
Heritage Malta

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

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