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Destination Details

Various, Malta

 

Archaeological Sites 
 
The sheer number of archaeological sites on the Maltese Islands sets their history apart from that of other Mediterranean destinations.
 
There are megalithic monuments, Bronze Age dolmens, Punic tombs, remains of Roman Villas and traces of prehistoric man, which defy explanation, such as the mysterious 'cart tracks'. For three millennia, from around 5200 B.C., the archipelago was home to a unique, temple-building civilisation. Malta and Gozo's temples are thought to be the oldest free-standing buildings known to man.
 
One site above all others is special to Malta - the Hypogeum, a labyrinth of underground chambers probably used as both a burial site and a temple. The Islands' temples qualify as UNESCO World Heritage Sites and are open to the public.
 
A good place to start your tour is at the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta or the Hypogeum itself.
 
BORĠ IN-NADUR TEMPLES
Borġ in-Nadur, Birżebbuġa, Malta
 
These temples ruins are situated in the southern area of Malta and are important because they appear to reveal not only a four-apse temple (c.2000 BC), but also a fortified, Bronze Age domestic settlement.
 
The remains of a large, defensive wall lie nearby, running across the head of a promontory between two valleys leading down to two bays. The wall was built facing the inland, and thus the village would have the sea to its back. This logistic situation leads scholars to believe that the people living in the village were much more afraid of being attacked from the land rather than the sea.
 
Traces of the Bronze Age huts were discovered lying just behind the wall and the depth of the deposits was very shallow, covering the remains of the Temple Period.
 
CLAPHAM JUNCTION
Buskett, limits of Ħad-Dingli, Malta
 
The most impressive and dense concentration of these cart ruts are on scrubland south of Buskett Gardens, an area known as Clapham Junction.
 
There are at least 30 distinct pairs of ruts. One pair, running across the crest of the ridge intersects all the others. Near the western wall bounding the site are a number of Punic tomb shafts one of which cuts through a rut proving the rut's greater antiquity.
 
 
ĠGANTIJA TEMPLES
Street, Xagħra, Gozo
Ggantija Temples are one of the most important archaeological sites in the world and date from around 3600 to 3200 BC.
 
Due to the gigantic dimensions of the megaliths, locals believed that the temples were the work of giants. This particular temple site in Gozo bears witness to this ancient legend: its name, Ggantija, is Maltese for giant.
 
The Ggantija megalithic complex consists of two temples surrounded by a massive common boundary wall, which was built using the alternating header and stretcher technique, with some of the megaliths exceeding five metres in length and weighing over fifty tons.
 
Built with rough, coralline limestone blocks, each temple contains five apses connected by a central corridor leading to the innermost trefoil section.
 
ĦAĠAR QIMTriq
Ħagar Qim, Qrendi, Malta
The temple of Hagar Qim (c. 3600 - 3200 BC) stands on a hilltop overlooking the sea and the islet of Filfla. The temple itself consists of a single temple unit, although it is not clear if it was originally constructed as a four or five-apse structure.
 
Other temple ruins stand a few metres away from the main temple and the forecourt and facade follow the pattern typical of temples across the Islands. Particularly noteworthy are the larger orthostats at the corners, which are notched to take the second of the horizontal courses above.
 
Various items of interest have been unearthed at Hagar Qim, notably a decorated pillar altar, two table-altars and some of the ‘fat lady’ statues on display in the National Museum of Archaeology.

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