MALTA: Home of Ancient Megaliths

Maltese Prehistory : Malta rests on an underwater ridge which extends from North Africa to Sicily. It is believed from the proofs kept by the marine fossils that is embedded on rocks in the highest point of Malta, that this place happened to be submerged somewhere in the distant past.

The ridge is believed to have pushed up resulting in the Strait of Gibraltar closing through tectonic activity. The sea was lower and Malta lied on a bridge of dry land that extended between the two continents, surrounded by large lakes.

NEOLITHIC AND TEMPLE PERIOD

Neolithic Age :

This age is also referred to as the Stone Age. According to the ASPRO chronology, this was the period of development of the human technology, starting with in some parts of Middle East further spreading across to some other parts through the globe.

Traditionally, however the Neolithic Age is considered to be the last part of the Stone Age succeeding towards the terminal Holocene Epipaleolithic period during which the commencement of activities such as farming were introduced leading to a ‘Neolithic Revolution’.

This period and Malta : The first Neolithic period  had convincingly arrived from Sicily during 5200BC leaving evidences of fishing , farming and some hunting activities.

Temple period at Malta :This period starting at around 3600BC is one of the most notable periods of Malta’s history.

Ggantija :

This is a megalithic temple complex of the Neolithic period situated on the Mediterranean island of Gozo.  These temples are the oldest of the free standing Megalithic temples of Malta. This structure is also a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Architecture of Ggantija:

The temples are elements of a site in fertility rite. A fertility rite is a religious rite that enacts either actually or symbolically the sexual acts or reproductive processes to be specific.

The Megalithic temples consist of two complete temples and an incomplete one. They face the equinox sunrise and are built side by side , enclosed within a boundary wall. The southerly one is the larger and older one, claiming to be preserved from a past of around 3600 BC.

They have five aspes. An aspe is the recess of the shape of a semicircle covered by a hemispherical vault or a semi dome, popularly known as the Exedra. There are traces of plaster that covered the irregular wall that is still clinging between the blocks.

The temples bear the shape of a typical cover leaf having their inner walls marking the shape. Such an effort in that period of technology is definitely a remarkable one in history.

There are a series of semi-circular aspes connected with the central passage. This led to the assumption that perhaps the aspes were originally covered by roofing.

Small stones have been discovered attaching the evidences of association of ball bearings used for transportation purposes. The five aspes contain various altars having used as a site for animal sacrifice as is evident from the animal bones found.