Places of Interest

​Information gathered by Jos. A. Farrugia)
The Neolithic Temples
 
The Tarxien Temples complex was made up of 4 temples but only 3 are still standing. These temples shows how advanced the prehistoric people were. Unfortunately there are only traces left of a fourth temple.
These temples were excavated by Prof Temi Zammit between the years 1915 and 1920. A detailed description of these temples is found in “The Prehistoric Temples of Tarxien” (Oxford 1918). With the discovery of these temples and through this important contribution, both Malta, and in particular Tarxien, found their rightful placed on the world archeological map.
 
During the cleaning and excavation works, Temi Zammit was trudging through untold and unknown pages of history.
 
From what remains standing of these temples, one can still imagine the facade of the temples at Hal Tarxien. As stated earlier, this complex is made up of three temples, one nicer than the other. All these temples are interconnected. As soon as one enters the first temple one finds oneself in a courtyard in the shape of a half moon.
 
It seems that many changes took place along the years and on the right one can still see the remains of a female statue, broken in half, whilst on the left there are several scarvings on stone of animals – pigs, sheep or goats - animals used for sacrifice.
 
The second temple, the middle one, is unique in Malta as it has got three sets of chambers. It could be that the inner parts are the oldest, and that additions were made in later dates. The high walls of the chambers are examples of great craftsmenship. In the centre there is a stone pond in which fire burned all the time, and this can be seen from traces of the reddish colour on the adjacent walls due to the fire. The chamber on the left is built like the ones found at the hypogeum were stone slabs are placed in a horizontal way and form a dome-like ceiling. This method is known as corbelling. At the side there is a niche probably used during the rites of the sacrifice.
 
The floor is paved with large stone slabs similar to the ones used fot the building of the walls which were rolled in place on big stone bollards. One of these stone bollards can still be seen semi-buried under one of the temple walls. The chamber in which the stone altar is found is cut off from the rest of the chambers and a large carved stone blocks the way. One can still see the carvings of bulls and pigs on these stone boulders. The third and final temple is reached through the second temple and one finds a set of three steps that might have led to some other place. Evans, the British archeologist, who was the curator of the Museum, in his writings about Maltese archeology implies that these steps might have been used by the high priest to reach the sancta sanctorum. The shape of this temple resembles that of the first temple but on a smaller scale.
 
The Itallian archeologist L.M. Ugolini, who visited Tarxien and continued excavation works at the temples writes that these temples were built during the Prehistoric era (between 3000 and 2000 BC).
Archeologists J.D. Evans and D. H. Trump say that these temples form part of a wider complex of temples, and that these are to be well looked after and preserved.
 
The Temples at Hal Tarxien can be divided in two periods:
Those of the bronze Age, and those known as of the “cemetery period”, the begining of the Bronze Age.
Several pottery items and other ornamental objects were elevated during excavation works and these can be seen at the National Museum of Archeology, at Valletta.