Charles Editors

The Megalithic Temples of Malta: The History and Legacy of Europe’s Oldest Standing Structures

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Malta’s history goes back further than many know, which can be attested to by the numerous Neolithic and Bronze Age era megaliths that dot the island of Malta proper as well as the island of Gozo to the north. Naturally, when European archaeologists began unearthing the megaliths of Malta in the 19th century, they did not know what to think, which led to a plethora of theories, many of them quite fantastic. At least 23 of these temples were uncovered, but because the people who built them lacked the knowledge of writing, speculation over who built them and why remained well into the 20th century (Rountree 2003, 26). Some people theorized that the Malta megaliths were built by a race of giants, while others believed that it was the center of a “Mother Earth” cult that later spread through Neolithic Europe.
Early archaeologists were also perplexed about the physical origins of the Maltese megalith builders. Because Malta is such an isolated location, the builders had to have migrated there from elsewhere, but debates raged over the location. Equally confusing was when the megaliths were built. Although most legitimate historians believed from an early time that they were Neolithic structures, some argued that they were built much later and influenced by the Minoans and/or the Mycenaeans.
Even as some answers have arrived, scholars still debate the purpose of the megaliths. Although there is a near consensus that they served as religious temples, the deities that were worshiped as well as the rituals carried out in the structures remain a mystery and sources of further debate. As such, the ancient monuments remain enigmatic and serve as sources of pride for the modern Maltese people and awe-inspiring to all those who visit them.
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