Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tarxien Temples, Malta

The Tarxien Temples on Malta were built over a thousand-year period from 3600 to 2500 BC, making them some of the oldest man-made structures still in existence. Four temples were built, from the small one on the eastern end of the site to the large, six-room temple.

The entrance sign

L at the beginning of the walkway

In the Bronze Age, the south temple was used for cremation. By the time the Romans came, the area was used for farming (for the Romans, these temples were older than the Colosseum is for us!).

South temple

A bit of inside the south temple

The central temple has a six-apse plan, including the paved main apse with a stone hearth for burning things (presumably sacrifices, later used for cremation).

Approaching the central temple

View into the central temple

The excavation from the far side of the entrance

The doorways of the temples have holes on opposite sides used for doors or screens.

Looking down the middle of the center temple

The temples also contain some intricate carving, though the meaning is lost to time.

Intricate carvings

Some of the archeological equipment

The base of a large statue was discovered here. It would have been eight feet tall and freestanding back in the day. It's assumed to be a female, perhaps a fertility goddess who watched over the temples.

Base of a large statue

The complex was discovered by a farmer in the early 1900s. He complained about the massive neolithic rocks and Sir Themistocles Zammit began excavations in 1915. Many bones and ceramics were discovered, most taken off to nearby museums like Valletta's National Museum of Archeology.

Large bowl or basin

Tables with swirls

Stairs or shelves?

More from Malta in the next post!

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