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Tarxien Temples Malta

Tarxien Temple

The Tarxien temples are megalithic temples on the island of Malta, the temples were built in the period 3600 - 2500 BC. The temple complex consists of four temples with separate entrances connected by a square court.

The complex design of the Tarxien Temples and the elaborate carved symbols are from the final phase of Maltese temple architecture. The temples were probably used for animal sacrifice, animal bones and flint blades were discovered in a carved altar.

The Tarxien temples are notable for their fine workmanship and decorative carvings, which include domestic animals carved in relief, exquisite spiral designs, and other patterns. Especially impressive is a relief of two bulls and a sow between the South and Central temples.

The spiral is the most common design in megalithic art on Malta, and indeed around the world. Believed by some to represent eternity, the design is expressed in a wide variety of forms across the islands and clearly had a significant meaning for the ancient Maltese peoples.

Fertility goddess figures (now in the national museum in Valetta) discovered in the ruins indicate that the temples were dedicated to the Earth Mother, as were many Maltese temples. The most famous of these figures is a sculpture of large hips with feet, dubbed the "Fat Lady."

Spherical stones found at the site have provided a valuable clue as to how the great stones of Malta's megalithic temples were moved into place—they were probably rolled on the stones while being towed with ropes.

In the Bronze Age (2400-1500 BC), Tarxien was reused as a cremation cemetery. The site lie hidden for centuries until its discovery in 1914, when farmers struck large stone blocks while ploughing a field. Sir Temistocles Zammit, Malta’s first director of museums, excavated the site in 1915-17.


Tarxien Temples Aerial View
Tarxien Temples Aerial View


Resources:


Heritage Malta - Tarxien Temples page from Government of Malta agency.

Sacred Destinations - Tarxien Temples page from worldwide guide to sacred sites and pilgrimage destinations.

The Megalithic Portal - Tarxien Temples page, includes many photographs and guest contributions.