Monday, August 13, 2012

Malta Temples - Tarxien

The third and final phase of the megalithic construction of temples on Malta was the Tarxien phase lasting from 3150 BC - 2500 BC. It followed the initial Ġgantija and the transitional Saflieni phases. The Tarxien phase was the golden age of temple building in Malta.

Like the two preceding periods, the Tarxien phase takes its name from an eponymous type site. The Tarxien temples are three separate, but connected temples. Like the temples at Ġgantija, the Tarxien temples are curved buildings that make use of apses or archways.

Now if you look closely at this photo and the photo in the Ġgantija or Salflieni posts, the temples don't seem to get significantly different. So, why is the Tarxien phase considered the penultimate of the Malta temple construction days? Well, the construction is actually being refined bit by bit throughout the ages, though I have to take an expert's word on the construction advancements because I admit I can't see it. But, the reason for the claim of the Tarxien phase being the best is because of the pottery and sculptures associated with the period. Basically, the artisans of the Tarxien phase had learned to become more intricate and the potters had learned to make harder, thinner and more beautiful jugs and bowls. Much of the artistry though comes in the reliefs that are carved into the walls of temple complexes like the one at Tarxien. My favorite is the picture of this statue. It makes me smile. That's one chunky lady.

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