Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Ggantija Temples, Gozo, Malta

The Ggantija Temples on Gozo are among the most ancient buildings still extant in the world. Built around 3600-3000 B.C., they predate the Egyptian Pyramids and Stonehenge by a thousand years. The temples are called "ggantija" or "giant" because folklore tells that a female giant brought the stones to construct them. The outer stones are up to five meters in length and weigh 40 to 50 tons.

Ggantija Temples

Side view

The other side

View from the back

There are two temples, both surrounded by the outer wall. The south temple is the older and larger (and better preserved). They were working on the entrance when we visited.

Temple supporters

The entrance to the South Temple

The doorway of the entrance has several large holes, presumably for doors or screens. The temple has five chambers or apses where services were held. Many animal bones were found in the area, indicating the offering of livestock. To whom or for what purpose is unknown.

Holes in the doorway

Front chamber

Altars or tables?

A small fire pit

The main apse paved with flagstones in 37th century B.C.!

Another chamber

The view from the temples is quite impressive, including the massive domed church in Xewkija.

View of Gozo

View of Xewkija and its church

The north temple is smaller and has similar features--the doorway holes, large chambers, etc. Unfortunately it has a bit of graffiti too.

Doorway with holes


Stone walls

Modern graffiti

L, happily, was not scared here, in spite of the ancient practices that may have gone on.

L's okay, really!

Up the hill is a museum that has some items from the temples. The museum is also the entrance to the site.

L anxious to get in!

Remnants of stone statue

Artist's conception of a complete statue

Small human and animal figures

Vase base

Etching of birds

Female human skull

There is little evidence of the culture of the builders of the temples. The Maltese Temple Culture abruptly ended just before 2500 B.C. The Bronze Age inhabitant that came after used the site for cremations. Debris and dirt eventually covered it up, leaving a mound with a stone wall. In 1820, British Lt. Col. John Otto Bayer began excavating the site. It was a long process. Not until 1949 was the site opened to the public. It is surely worth visiting.

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