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The megalithic temples of Malta

Despite the fact that all the megalithic temples of Malta were excavated long ago, and the Internet, there are quite a lot of scientific publications devoted to them, their place in the culture of prehistoric Europe is not completely clear. In the last few years historians and archaeologists have put forward several hypotheses about the origin of the Maltese megaliths.

The construction of temples on Malta began much earlier than in continental Europe (the oldest known – Cairn de Barnenez, Finistere, France, 4500 G. BC), and, therefore, of the Maltese megaliths are largely prototypes for monuments of other regions. Obvious is the fact that the culture of prehistoric Malta are largely associated with Sicily, so archaeologists suggest that Malta was a cult centre of the peoples of the Sicilian Neolithic-paleometal. Historians have determined that the megalithic temples of Malta, like other megaliths of Western and southern Europe served archeoastronomical viewfinders, tsekavshiri beam of light at sunrise in the days of the solstices and the equinoxes, which is quite rare in the megalithic area.

In Malta there are no undisputed evidence that the island was inhabited in the upper Paleolithic and the Mesolithic. The Neolithic period appears here,as archaeologists say “ready package”, i.e. without preliminary phases and includes the major achievements of the civilizations of that time: pottery, agriculture and animal husbandry. Early (darmowy) Neolithic Malta presented by the cave of Ghar-dalam, where the earliest evidence of the Neolithic date back to 5400 BC.

Traditionally, the emergence of productive economy on the island historians connected with middle Eastern influences. However, with some exceptions (for example, Shanidar) caves in the middle East have served as dwellings or places long-term Parking. Besides the archaeological inventory of the cave can be described as pastoral, with the characteristics of the so-called “African cattle complex” and known in archeology as the “Khartoum Neolithic” or “saharo-Sudanese complex”. This complex occurs in the Sahara more than 10 thousand years ago and is different from the middle Eastern Neolithic cultural tradition.

Ceramics of the period, Ghar-dalam characterized as a local variant of ceramics by impresso (cardium). This type of ceramics which takes its name from the fact that on the dishes, applied stamped ornaments (usually with the aid of Cardium shells), is widely distributed on the Islands and coasts of the Western Mediterranean and on the Atlantic coast of the Iberian Peninsula. It is believed that such a ceramic tradition emerged in Gabala (Jbeil) in the ninth Millennium BC from whence they migrated to Macedonia (Pre-Sesklo), and from there spread to the Western Mediterranean and in the Adriatic (culture Danilo and Hvar).

However cebulska ceramics vanished as suddenly as it had appeared, leaving behind a significant continuation between it and the Western Mediterranean impresso there is a significant chronological gap. Opposite the ancient IMPRESSA appears in the Sahara in the IX-VIII Millennium BC regardless gibalskiego. Moreover, the culture of impresso had a substantial seagoing capacity, unknown in the cultures of the Middle East that allows to explain the emergence of impresso in various regions imports. According to a study by Ukrainian archaeologist Dmitry Paskevich, the bearers of this culture in the VI th BC inhabited not only the area but also had a significant impact on the formation of the Bugo-dnistrovs’ka culture.

After phase Ghar-dalam (5200-4500 BC analogue of the Sicilian culture Stentinello) there is a phase of Sorrow (4500-4100 BC), in which, depending on the predominant type of ceramics, allocate a “gray” (Sicilian Serra d’alto) and the “red” (Diana). Because the changes in this phase is significant in modern science, the main debate concerns two main aspects: the ratio of autochthonous and migrant (in particular, the appearance of temples and cult statues), and direction of influence. So, the female figurines of clay and terracotta attributed to Oriental influences, and others by the techniques of stone statues – Iberian, with a particular proliferation of these Iberian idols get in the bronze age in the Cyclades. The settlement of Sorrow occurs approx. 4850 BC i.e. in the middle phase Ghar-dalam, while the emergence of the temple nearby the village is considered the beginning of “grey Sorrow”. Because of this, a number of researchers tend to lengthen the time of construction of the temple before 5000 BC

The late Neolithic period (4100-2500 BC) marked the heyday of the temple building, at that time there were built most of the megalithic temples, such as Zebbug, Shamsia, of Mgarr, Ggantija, are, That Hagrat, Hagar-Kim, Hal o Saflieni and Tarxien. At this time there is a gradual loss of links between the Islands of the Western Mediterranean and increase the influence of continental cultures, primarily European. In discussions about the late Neolithic there remains the problem of foreign cultural influences and associated question about the reasons for the decline of the temple culture of Malta.

Change temple periods did not lead to the destruction or abandonment of the former temples, the local population continued to use them for burials, indicating significant continuity. It influences much attention is paid to Iberian (culture Los Millares) and Cretan elements. Evidence of penetration on Malta Cretan population can serve as preserved in ancient sources mention the conquest of Minos in the West. From noteworthy hypotheses about the causes of the decline of the megalithic temples of Malta should provide the following: the aridity of climate, civil war, foreign influence, the depletion of soils or other natural resources of Malta and/or Sicily.

Found after 3000 BC single cases of cremation, which may indicate the penetration of the Indo-Europeans, since cremation is often one of the fairly reliable indicators of their occurrence in Europe. Umovie cremation in cysts and dolmens, typical for the next phase of the necropolis Tarxien indicate the penetration in Malta synthetic culture Castelluccio, megalithic containing as (cysts, dolmens) and Indo-European (cremation) and the Balkan-Danube (urns) elements. During the bronze – early iron age Malta has experienced several waves of migration, which has been lost continuity with megalithic peoples. It is likely that these migrations contacts were established with all Mediterranean, in particular Egypt.

The ancient Greeks had several kingdoms of the dead, one of them is the Champs Elysees, in many ways similar to the Egyptian fields Yalu, was located on the island West of Greece. Megalithic burial complexes of Malta could be the prototypes of the Champs Elysees, moreover, that their descriptions, for example in the Odyssey (IV: 563-568) is quite close to our view of Malta’s megalithic time:

You beyond earth, the fields will be the Champs

Sent by the gods where lives the Golden-haired Radamant

(Where run light carefree days of man,

Where no snow storms, no rains, no hladov winter there;

Where Zephyr breathes sladkowska flying, Ocean

With the light breeze sending there people blissful).

Moreover, as proved in the Pacific material the ethnologist Bronislaw Malinowski, the direction in the realm of the Dead is a reference to the ancestral home, from whence the migrants came to the area of their present habitation. Considering the Iberian origin of the Cycladic idols and the Mycenaean Tolosa, as well as “marriage expedition” to the Western country, are depicted on the frescoes Vereisky, it can be argued that the megalithic element in Greek culture was quite significant.