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Ġgantija

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Trina Demario
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« on: October 22, 2007, 09:21:48 pm »



Ggantija temple
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Trina Demario
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« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2007, 09:22:10 pm »

Ġgantija (also Ggantia) is a megalithic temple complex on the Mediterranean island of Gozo (part of Malta). The two temples of Ġgantija on the island of Gozo are notable for their gigantic Neolithic structures, which were erected during the Neolithic Age (c. 3600-2500 BC). At more than 5500 years old, the Ġgantija temples are the world's oldest free-standing structures, and the world's oldest religious structures, pre-dating the Pyramids of Egypt and Stonehenge. The temples were possibly the site of an Earth Mother Goddess Fertility Cult, with numerous figurines and statues found on site believed to be connected with that cult.

In the Maltese language, Ġgantija means "belonging to the giants". According to local Gozitan legend, the temples were built by the giants who resided in Gozo during ancient times. It is said that the temples themselves were used by the giants as watchtowers.
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Trina Demario
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« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2007, 09:22:46 pm »

Construction

The temples are cloverleaf-shaped; built up with cyclopean facing stones and filled in with rubble. Each was constructed as a series of semi-circular apses connected with a hall in the center. Archaeologists believe that the apses were originally covered by masonry domes. The structures are all the more impressive for having been constructed at a time when no metal tools were available to the natives of the Maltese islands, and when the wheel had not yet been introduced. Small, spherical stones have been discovered; it is believed that these were used as ball bearings to transport the enormous stone blocks required for the temples' construction
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Trina Demario
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« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2007, 09:23:48 pm »



Ggantija Temple
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Trina Demario
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« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2007, 09:24:33 pm »

Design

The southern temple is the older and more extensive of the two. It dates back to approximately 3600 BC. The temple, like other megalithic sites in Malta, faces southeast. The southern temple rises to a height of six metres. At the entrance sits a large stone block with a recess. Some archaeologists have hypothesized that this was a ritual ablution station for purification before entering the complex. The five apses contain various altars; evidence of animal bones in the site suggests the site was used for animal sacrifice. Carvings that decorate the site depict goats, sheep, and pigs of both sexes, possibly showing which animals were used by the sacrifical cult.
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Trina Demario
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« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2007, 09:25:09 pm »

Excavations and recognition

The Ġgantija Temples were excavated in 1827 by Col. John Otto Bayer, the Lieutenant Governor of Gozo.

However, after his departure from Gozo, the temples were not properly maintained and soon filled with rubbish. It was only until after the Ġgantija temples were made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980, that proper restoration occurred.

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Trina Demario
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« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2007, 09:26:43 pm »

ĠGANTIJA TEMPLES 


Ġgantija, ‘the Giant’s Tower’, attributed to a mythical giantess, is actually a temple, erected about 3500BC, and so one of the very first in the world. It has survived quite extraordinarily well, its walls in places still standing to a height of 7 metres. Actually it is two adjacent temples, the southern one, on the left, having had part of its wall removed to allow the northern one to be built up against it.

Their plans follow the principles of all the Maltese Neolithic temples, that is, a forecourt in front of a concave facade, a trilithon doorway consisting of two upright slabs with a massive lintel, leading to a central paved corridor, from which two pairs of semicircular rooms open on either side. A central altar lies at the end of the passage in either a fifth apse or smaller niche. Other altars, either of trilithon form or of solid cubic blocks, stood in the side apses also, some originally decorated with relief spirals. Several of the paving slabs are pierced to allow liquid offerings to pass through to the underworld. The door jambs are also pierced or pitted to hold screens or bars to close off access.

The most impressive blocks are in the rear enclosing wall, huge slabs on edge, alternately face and end out for stability. Internal walls were of coralline limestone rubble, then covered in plaster, though all jambs and altars were of the fine globigerina. These rough walls could never have been sloped in to form a stone vault, so any roof must have been supported on timber beams.

It was emptied - ‘excavated’ would be misleading - in 1827, and although no records were kept, a few of the finds, notably two carved heads and a snake in relief, survive, now in the Gozo Museum of Archaeology. Across the road to the north, a natural cave served to take temple refuse, and in 1947 was found to be stacked with a great quantity of broken pottery of the Tarxien phase.

However, it is the building itself which rightly arouses our awe, in its remarkable state of preservation. Recent calculations have suggested that the south temple would have taken some 15,000 man/days to construct, a major but by no means impossible task. Giants would not have been necessary.

Dr. David Trump

http://www.gozo.gov.mt/pages.aspx?page=15
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Trina Demario
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« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2007, 09:27:30 pm »

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Trina Demario
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« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2007, 09:28:12 pm »

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Trina Demario
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« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2007, 09:29:02 pm »

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Trina Demario
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« Reply #10 on: October 22, 2007, 09:29:46 pm »

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Trina Demario
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« Reply #11 on: October 22, 2007, 09:30:33 pm »

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Trina Demario
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« Reply #12 on: October 22, 2007, 09:32:07 pm »

Over 6 metres (19.6 feet) high, the wall forming the outside corner of Ggantija South is very impressive. Build over 5,000 years ago, it has withstood the centuries. Yet in the last decades it has started to collapse and now is supported with scaffolding (erected in 1997). The collapse is mainly due to water seepage (from rain and humidity) and through vibrations caused by buses, loaded with visitors, passing through a road constructed immediately behind the site. Thankfully this road has been closed off for traffic since 1995. Ggantija South can give us a good idea of what many of the Maltese temples would have looked like before they fell into ruin.
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Trina Demario
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« Reply #13 on: October 22, 2007, 09:39:44 pm »

A bird's eye view of the corner of the South Temple. The stone balls were used in the moving of the stones (see visible example at Tarxien). Note the huge threshold slab, and the earth fill, used between the stone walls to stabilise the structure.
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Trina Demario
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« Reply #14 on: October 22, 2007, 09:41:59 pm »



The main altar at the far end of the main axis of Ggantija North.
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