(Europe Records Institute – EURI) Top Europe’s Architectural Masterpieces (P.16) – The Ġgantija Temples (Malta) – The ingenuity of Malta’s prehistoric inhabitants

23-02-2024

(WorldKings.org) Malta, a picturesque archipelago nestled in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, boasts a rich tapestry of history and culture dating back thousands of years. Among its many archaeological wonders, the Ġgantija Temples stand out as a testament to the ingenuity and craftsmanship of Malta's prehistoric inhabitants.

Built between 3600 and 3200 BCE, the Ġgantija Temples are among the oldest free-standing structures in the world, predating even the Great Pyramid of Giza. Located on the island of Gozo, these megalithic temples are shrouded in mystery, with their origins and purpose continuing to intrigue archaeologists and historians to this day.

The name Ġgantija, derived from the Maltese word for “giant,” aptly reflects the monumental scale of these ancient structures. Comprising two temple complexes, Ġgantija East and Ġgantija West, the site covers an area of over 5000 square meters, making it one of the largest temple complexes in the world.

What sets the Ġgantija Temples apart is their sophisticated architectural design and construction techniques. Built from massive limestone blocks, some weighing up to 50 tons, these temples showcase the engineering prowess of Malta’s prehistoric builders.

The temples’ intricate layout consists of a series of elliptical chambers, connected by a network of corridors and passageways. The walls are adorned with intricate carvings and bas-reliefs, depicting scenes of fertility, animal worship, and ceremonial rituals.

Megalithic Construction: The Ġgantija Temples are built using large limestone megaliths, some of which weigh several tons. These massive stones were quarried locally and transported to the site using primitive methods. The temples consist of several chambers and corridors constructed from these megaliths, forming impressive architectural complexes.

Corbelling Technique: One of the most striking features of the temples is their use of corbelling, a technique in which successive layers of stone are progressively stepped inwards until they meet at the top. This technique creates a characteristic beehive-shaped roof structure, which was likely covered with a roof made of wood, clay, and animal skins. This ingenious method allowed the builders to create domed ceilings without the need for supporting columns, a remarkable achievement for its time.

Orthostats and Trilithons: The temples feature large upright stones, known as orthostats, which form the walls of the chambers and corridors. Some of these orthostats are decorated with intricate carvings and symbols. Additionally, the Ġgantija Temples include trilithons, which are structures consisting of two vertical orthostats supporting a horizontal lintel stone.

Internal Features: The Ġgantija Temples consist of multiple chambers and corridors arranged in a complex layout. The main chambers are typically rectangular or apsidal in shape and are connected by narrow passageways. Some chambers contain stone altars or benches, suggesting their use for religious or ceremonial purposes.

Decorative Elements: The Ġgantija Temples are adorned with intricate carvings and decorations, including spirals, plant motifs, and animal figures. These carvings are found on the exterior and interior walls of the temples and are believed to have had symbolic or religious significance.

Alignment: The orientation of the Ġgantija Temples is aligned with the solstices, indicating a possible astronomical significance. This alignment suggests that the temples may have been used for observing celestial events or marking important agricultural or religious festivals.

Overall, the architecture of the Ġgantija Temples reflects the advanced building techniques and religious beliefs of Malta’s prehistoric inhabitants. These monumental structures continue to fascinate archaeologists, historians, and visitors alike, offering valuable insights into the ancient past of the Mediterranean region.

According to the Internet 


Esther (Collect & Edit) - WORLDKINGS (Source of photos: Internet)

 

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