Monday, December 22, 2014

Malta: A Small Island of Ancient Giants

A small island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea contains some of the biggest megalithic monuments.

Built before the pyramids by apparently a peace-loving people, the question is who they were and why they disappeared so suddenly.

The three small islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino float in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, south of Sicily and east of the North African coastline.

Though small, their history dates back thousands of years – and continues to throw a magical spell on many visitors. 

The question is whether the modern tourists are the last in a series of sun worshippers that came to these islands.

Around twenty Neolithic stone temples, dating from 4000 to 2500 BC, were built without the apparent use of any metal tools, yet they were working with blocks of stone weighing as much as fifty tonnes.

Malta’s “Temple Culture” ended before the Egyptian pyramid building really got going. What is of interest, is that the Maltese temples are unique in style and that their builders – as is so often the case – are unknown to have been locals, or immigrants; however, as is the current trend in archaeology, that the natives did it all without any outside help, is the preferred theory.

Malta is by far the biggest of the three islands: it measures 40 km in length and is 20 km wide. The eastern part of the island is where the main megalithic monuments can be found, those of Tarxien, Hagar Qim and Mnajdra being the most famous. But it seems that the oldest are in the west, starting on Gozo.

When the exploration of these sites began many centuries ago, the excavators lived under the impression that they were erected by an extinct race of giants, in antediluvian times, as is in evidence in a printed account of the Maltese islands published in Lyon in 1536, written by Jean Quintin d’Autun, who was auditor to Grandmaster Philippe Vilier de L’Isle Adam. 

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