Monday, August 13, 2012

The Megalithic Temples of Malta - Ġgantija

I know, I know, I promised a podcast over the weekend. It's written I simply haven't had time to record and post it. My apologies. In the meantime I hope you continue to enjoy the blogging.

A view from up top of the whole complex.
We've discussed the megalithic culture before, both here on the blog and on the podcast. We'll touch on it again when that yet unrecorded podcast goes up as well. But, in all of our mentioning we've barely paid lip service to the Megalithic Temples on Malta. These temples on Malta are the oldest free standing structures built by man on earth, dating as far back as 5000 years ago. The Temples, there are a whole mess of temples all over the island as opposed to just one site, have been identified as having three distinct phases of usage and construction, the Ġgantija phase, the Saflieni phase, and the Tarxien phase.

Step right in and see the Oracle.
The Ġgantija phase is the oldest and dates from 3600 - 3200 BC. This phase is named after the temples at the site called Ġgantija on Gozo. Gozo is one of the small islands of the Malta archipelago and has been inhabited since about 5000 BC when farmers from Sicily hopped on over to start things out. The Ġgantija temples are the second oldest religious buildings in the world behind Göbekli Tepe in Turkey. According to the legends of Gozo the temple was built by a Giantess. In fact the word Ġgantija literally means the Giant's Tower.

Figurehead from the temple.
The temple complex at Ġgantija is two temples built side by side and enclosed by a boundary wall. Each temple has a number of apses or archways in which altars were found. These altars had the remains of burnt animals, suggesting that they were used for animal sacrifice. Another alternative theory is that Ġgantija is not a Temple at all, but a prehistoric Barbecue joint. Unfortunately this newly minted preposterous theory doesn't hold too much value in the scientific & archeological communities.

The Temples (if they aren't barbecue pits) are round shaped that have led some to believe that they were built to represent the mother goddess figure. This would also fit into line with the myth that it was built by a giantesses in a night, while she was nursing her baby. It also fits in with the various mother goddess figurines found around the temple complex.


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