Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Malta, 9: Tarxien Temples

As soon as we hopped off, the day picked up, indeed, it picked up to be one of our best megalithic days ever: the Tarxien Temples, followed by the Hypogeum, all five-star attractions if you're into such things. The Tarxien Temples date to the high neolithic, 3,500 BC to 2,000 BC on Malta, roughly the same as elsewhere in the megalithic world (mostly on the Atlantic: Portugal, Brittany, Ireland, UK...). The Tarxien complex was discovered in the usual way: a farmer trying to plow a field and hitting big rocks. The local archaeologist, Sir Themistocles Zammit (I swear I am not making this up) was called, much digging ensued, and the rest is history. Tarxien became one of the best known among Malta's World Heritage Sites. And among all megalithic sites.
From the central station in Valletta we caught a bus out to the suburb of Tarxien,
maybe 4-5 miles from the center; the signage was relatively good, if not in

The streets were interestingly decorated, for what reason
we could not discern

Anyhow, we made it; alas, we did not take any selfies

Helpful illustration, which you can click to enlarge; Tarxien is several distinct
temples, built over a one thousand year stretch

Since 2015, the whole site has been tented over, both for protection from (some
of) the elements and for the comfort of visitors; we are looking at the remains
of the south temple


Megaliths, indeed; these puppies are big but also finely worked; one wonders
what the sculptors at Bru na Boinne or at Gavrinis could have done with this
limestone (more carving in the next post)

The central temple, the largest of Malta's megalithic structures, with, count
'em, six apses; the other big ones, as at Ggantija, for example, have four

Looking now at the east temple, oldest

Part of the walk-way that takes you through the complex

The tents are enormous; the interpretive signage excellent; three cheers for 
Heritage Malta!

Me, for scale; not my best Indiana Jones pose

Some of the megaliths were plastered, it seems 

Flooring: here, thick limestone slabs

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