The Tarxien Temples

19 Mar

The Tarxien Temples of Malta are a grouping of four Megalithic structures built between 3600 and 2500 BC. The mysterious creators of the temples, known only as the ‘Temple Builders’ displayed most sophisticated forms of art, architecture and sculpture on these temples stones. The builders’ “creed” was a fixed set of principles or a formula for creation of these astonishing physical structures.

The limestone balls found at Tarxien were believed to have been used for moving the heavy monoliths into place. And it is believed by some that the stones were shaped to their roundness. Others believe they were naturally occurring and used as they were found in nature. Whatever the method of creation there are visible grooves in one area of the floor of the existing temple that could have been created by the continual rolling of the balls as they moved the gigantic stones.

Within the complex of narrow passages that comprise the Tarxien site, proof exists of the function of particular areas. Pink residue still exists on some stones where fire pits once burned. The three separate but attached temples served a spiritual purpose for rituals particularly animal sacrifices.

Animal bones and remains were found in the niche created in the stones below. While another layer of sacrifices were found on the top-level of stone. Faint stone spirals symbolizing eternity can be observed on the apron stone below the niche.

Copy of original stone spiral

Megalithic art is found throughout the temples. Spiral pattern reliefs are found on many of the stone blocks as well as the depiction of goats, bulls, pigs and a ram. The significance of the spirals is unknown though the form is found all over the world in the remains of many lost as well as existing cultures. Archaeologists do believe that the animals depicted may have been sacrificial offerings.

Megaliths with holes in the stone were believed to be pivot points for doors and screens providing privacy for ceremonies of worship. Rawhide ties were threaded through the holes and the screens to create the ability to swing the doors closed.

The bottom of this corpulent female figure is about 5 feet high and 6 feet wide. She is the representation of a “Mother Goddess” or fertility charm whose unceremonious sobriquet is “the fat lady.” The sculpture prooves that the goddess of fertility was the goddess of the Neolithic people who worshipped her.

An extraordinary find was what is believed to be the first graffiti ever discovered. If you look closely at this rock from an exterior wall, scratched into the surface is the faint shape of a boat (upper left.) In fact research of these stone walls have revealed many boats and oars that would have been then, as they are now, a pervasive symbol of life in Malta.

 

2 Responses to “The Tarxien Temples”

  1. maryl@richtravis.com March 19, 2017 at 11:30 pm #

    Truly amazing how much ancient history is found and preserved on Malta. Living there for 3 months definitely gives you an advantage over other “2-week tourists” to discover all that it has to offer. Love getting your almost daily dose of doings on Malta.

    • Jill March 19, 2017 at 11:39 pm #

      Love that you are a reader. There are over 50 temples that have been found on Malta and Gozo. You will see an entry on Hagar Qim and Mnajdra soon. We also hope to visit Gozo to see the Temple at Ggantia.

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