Outline of Maltese Prehistory (5 photos)

Picture 1 - Skorba

This temple complex lies on the outskirts of Mgarr.  In the sixties, excavations revealed the foundations of a number of neolithic huts, thus providing evidence for open settlement as yet unknown for this period .  A part of the settlement was destroyed during the later half of the Temple Period to make way for two megalithic temples.  Despite not being as impressive as the other megalithic monuments on the island, the site gave invaluable information on the Neolithic and Temple periods of the Maltese Islands. The excavations helped in the recognition of two new neolithic phases and corrected the existing maltese prehistoric cultural sequence.

Picture 2 - The 'Mother Goddess'

This statue was originally more than a metre high is the largest of hundreds of art objects representing the human form used in the Temple's cult. Other smaller statues, some of which intended as votive offerings, have also been found. Relief sculptures were also used and have been noted to exist carved at the temples of Hagar Qim (see picture below) and Tas-Silg.

Although in the past this and other similar statues have been classified as ‘mother goddesses’,  this attribution has been questioned due to a lack of essential differentiating sexual characteristics present in most of the statues.

Picture 3 - Dolmen at Ta’ Hammud

Ta’ Hammud was the only dolmen that could be excavated on the Maltese islands and the pottery found allowed the attribution of each of these monuments to the Tarxien Cemetery culture (Early Bronze Age).  The Dolmen consists of a horizontal slab of coralline limestone lying on a number of supporting stones.  Of note is the depression below the Dolmen itself, intended to increase the size of the funerary chamber.

Picture 4 - Wardija ta’ San Gorg settlement

The crossing of the Maghlaq fault with a north-east trending fault in the area of il-Wardija ta’ San Gorg has resulted in a promontory which is certainly one of the best view points on the islands.  Exposure of the junction of the Blue Clay and the Upper Coralline limestone resulted in a number of springs beneath this promontory.

These springs together with the easily defensible promontory, were noted by the Borg in-Nadur folk who transformed the area into a Bronze Age settlement.  One can still note several features of this Village, namely the silo storage pits, the remains of a cyclopean wall and hut foundations.

Picture 5 - Ras il-Wardija Sanctuary

This sanctuary is found on a remote spot on the island of Gozo and can be divided into two areas.  The upper part, which is shown in the picture, consists of a rock cut chamber and a cistern.  In the lower terrace the remains have been less well preserved, although a few blocks of stone can still be traced.

During Phoenician times this area flourished as a place of cult dedicated to an as yet unknown deity. The place was also utilised for a similar purpose during the Roman period, after which the sanctuary fell in decay only to be used as a troglodytic dwelling in the medieval period.

Qormi (4 photos)

Picture 6 - Ghar Hanzir

In the Medieval period, numerous farmsteads were found around Wied Qirda.  Few of these remain today, and their existence can only be appreciated through notarial deeds.  The most tangible remains that remains today to testify to the medieval use of this valley is a cave called Ghar Hanzir (The (literally translated as 'The Cave of the Pig').  Named after the valley into which the cave opens, this cave was adopted as a troglodytic chapel at an unknown date.  The sides of the cave were transformed by vertical depressions to form rib-like columns.  On these a number of crosses have been carved, many of which are still visible today .
Picture 7 - Windmill at Qormi

The Maltese Windmill is in structure and layout similar to that of the Balearic Islands.  This association is not surprising, as it was the Majorcan Grandmaster Cottoner who encouraged their construction.  The windmill consists of a central tower around which a number of rooms form the rectangular base of the windmill itself.  These rooms served as the storage area and the living quarters of the family operating the windmill.  The grinding apparatus lies in the upper part of the circular tower.

The windmill at Qormi has been out of use for a number of years and can still be located near the Mriehel bypass.  A similar windmill, found at Tax-Xarolla in Zurrieq,  has been restored and may be seen in operation during favorable weather.

Picture 8 - Main Altar - St. George’s Parish Church Qormi

The picture shows the main altar at St. George's Parish church prepared for feast day. The painting visible in the apse was painted by the local artist Giuseppe Cali, while the titular painting below is a work of Mattia Preti and his bottega.
Picture 9 - Saturday Fireworks - St. George’s feastday

One of the basic elements that characterizes the Maltese Festa is the fireworks display prepared for the eve of the feast day.  Village and parish rivalry, encourages amateur pyrotechnicians to give a colourful evening on this special occasion.  The most remarkable work is the Baraxx during which the night bursts in colour after a number of petards are ignited simultaneously

Cart - Ruts (4 photos)

Picture 10 - Misrah Ghar il-Kbir (Clapham Junction)
This site, also known as Clapham Junction for the famous English railway station, contains the largest concentration of cart-ruts on the islands.  Close to the most known medieval cave dwelling on the islands, the ruts appear to converge/ diverge from a single point.

Picture 11 - Mensija Cart-Ruts

These are the only ruts found in the area.

Picture 12 - Dwejra Ruts

This group is one of the few that lies in globigerina limestone and can be followed for a number of metres. A circular group of stones lies very close to the ruts, but unfortunately no evidence for its use or function was gained during excavation.
Picture 13 - Ta’ Cenc

This area contains a number of interesting examples of cart-ruts.  The picture shows a good example of a rut junction lying just a few metres away from the splendid Ta’ Cenc cliffs.

Other Pictures (3 photos)

Picture 14 - Last Supper Statuary Group  - Zebbug (Gozo)

Of the Gozitan statuary groups, the last supper at Zebbug is the largest.  To note is the oil lamp to the right of the main figure which is a copy of a medieval one found on the island.  The statues are dressed in clothes made from nineteenth century cloaks gathered from around the village.

Picture 15 - Il-Migbha

Apiculture has given Malta a number of structures reserved for bee breeding activity. The Migbha as this edifice is still to be found in the Maltese countryside. The Migbha was usually rented and bees were taken in clay pots to be released through the openings in the Migbha’s ‘facade’.  After feeding on wild thyme and the royal mint, the bees returned back into the clay pot, which was taken back by the owner.  Probably not in use any more, the Migbha is a characteristic feature of the Maltese countryside.

Picture 16 - Il-Girna; The Maltese Corbelled Hut

The Maltese Girna is mostly found on the northern part of Malta .The foreground of the picture, however, shows a rare example of a Girna with a circular plan on the island of Gozo. The Girna is first documented in the sixteenth century, Typically it is constructed with skill from stones found in the surrounding fields.  It served as a convenient place of shelter for the farmer, but occasionally also served as his residence.

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