Tarxien Megalithic Temples

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Tarxien Megalithic Temples

The Tarxien Temples site consists of a complex of four megalithic structures built between 3600 and 2500 BC and re-used between 2400 and 1500 BC. Discovered in 1913 by local farmers, the site was extensively excavated between 1915 and 1919, with a number of minor interventions carried out in the 1920s, by Sir Themistocles Zammit, Director of Museums at the time.

The earliest of the four structures, located at the easternmost end of the site and built some time between 3600 and 3200 BC, survives only to near ground level although its five-apse plan is still clearly visible.

Between 3150 and 2500 BC the South Temple, the most highly decorated of megalithic buildings with its relief sculpture and the lower part of a colossal statue of a skirted figure, and the East temple, with its well-cut slab walls and ‘oracle’ holes , were built. In between the latter, the Central temple was constructed with its unique six-apse plan and evidence of arched roofing. Of the four structures, three were substantially reconstructed by Zammit during the excavation itself with further interventions taking place in the 1960s.

The presence of highly decorated stone blocks and screens, reliefs of domestic animals and spirals, the colossal statue and a number of altars, one of which contained a flint knife and animal bones, along with their location and the relationship with the temple itself are our best indications of the type of activities which took place on site. Tarxien has also contributed to the study of the construction of these megalithic structures with the discovery of stone spheres which have been interpreted as stone rollers, possible aids to transportation of the megaliths.

Remains of cremation found at the centre of the South temple at Tarxien, which indicates that the site was reused as a Bronze Age cremation cemetery, between 2400 and 1500 BC.

Source: Heritage Malta