This is part 1 of 3.
Delving Into Ancient Malta
By Raymond Towers
The Hypogeum Of Hal Saflieni
The Cave Of Ghar Dalam
I have a lot of material to go through here, from a number of different sources. Major or important sources will be credited at the end. For now, I am trying to avoid the ancient and mysterious ruts found on Malta, and the esoteric order of the Knights of Malta. My focus is on non-mainstream archeology and speculation, from topics including Giants, beings with elongated skulls, temples, underground tunnel systems and ancient mythology. This may change if I discover any clear links to modern ideologies or whatnot. Also, I am mainly looking for information from Before the Common Era, to compare with my existing timeline for that period.
Update: After finishing up this article, I’ve discovered that a lot of portions are convoluted and subject to the personal interpretations of the researchers. I tried to create as smooth an article as I could. Despite this, some sections will be messy. The worst of these quagmires are the religion and oddities sections, mostly because of the huge time span involved in Malta’s history, and in how the various researchers tried to complete a puzzle without having all the parts available to them. Unfortunately, I had to add to the jumble because I found several additional fragments while digging through my digital library on history and mythology. The religion section will deal mostly with lore and mythology, while the oddities entries will concentrate mainly on archeological findings, but you will see how these two sections intermingle together.
Three small islands make up Malta. They are Malta, Gozo and Comino. They are found in the Mediterranean Sea to the south of Sicily. Malta is in a strategic location to put a naval base. Cultures that have used the islands for military purposes include the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Moors, Normans, Sicilians, Spanish, French and British.
Malta is 40 km (24 miles) long and 20 km (12 miles) wide. (Strangely enough, I have another article saying Malta is only 9 miles long!) The following megalithic monuments are located on the eastern side of the island: Tarxien, Hagar Qim and Mnajdra.
A modern town surrounds Tarxien. The temple there is constructed in a series of oval shaped ‘chapels.’ The temple has its own water spring.
Nearby to Tarxien are the underground chambers of the Hypogeum. The remains of 7,000 people were found there. Other archeological findings indicate that rituals were conducted at this site, causing some to believe it was a cemetery or temple of the dead. Some archeologists believe the Hypogeum and Mnajdra are linked together.
The temples of Hagar Qim and Mnajdra are located near the coastline. They are only a few hundred meters apart. Hagar Qim is the most impressive of the monuments because of the quality of the stonework, which compares well with the Valley Temple near the Sphinx in Egypt.
On the island of Gozo is the temple Ggantija. (One documentary states the name means magnificent, while a second article identifies the name with Giants. Compare to the Spanish word Gigante.) In Greek mythology, Calypso held Odysseus in a Gozo cave for 7 years. This cave is located near the temple. The temple is the largest free-standing stone in the world, according to UNESCO.
A stone circle can be found north of the temple. In 1987, human skeletons were found at the Xaghra stone circle. The circle also has an underground complex of caves, and could have been a cemetery like the Hypogeum on Malta.
The original builders left behind small models of the temples. These indicate that the temples once may have had roofs on them. There is a debate over whether there were roofs at all, and if there were, were they made of wood or stone? If stone, then where did the stones go? One theory is that the temples were entirely made of stone to mimic the walls of underground caves.
The temples are decorated with spirals and have three or seven oval-shaped chapels. They also had statues, but most of these have been destroyed. Some statues show a giant woman with great breasts, thighs and arms.
In antiquity, sea levels were lower and more of the land around present-day Malta was above ground. Many animal bones have been found in excavations, including elephants and hippos, now only found naturally in Africa, and other animals that are found exclusively in Europe.
5200 BCE – Neolithic people, likely Sicilians, first arrive on Malta. They were probably fishermen and hunters. These people lived in caves and open dwellings. Some researchers believe the sea levels were so low that a land bridge once existed between Malta and Sicily.
3600 BCE – Temple building period begins. The Ggantija Temple is one of the oldest free-standing temples in the world. Many temples are in the form of 5 semi-circles connected in the center, suggesting the head, arms and legs of a deity. One of the most common religious artifacts found is that of a fat woman representing a goddess of fertility. The style of building is unique in the world and the builders are unknown.
2500 BCE – Temple building period ends and advanced civilization vanishes.
3600 – 2400 BCE – Creation of the Scipi of Melqart.
2500 BCE – Bronze Age begins, with new settlements, villages and dolmens. These structures are markedly different than the megalithic builders that came before them. These new structures are similar to those of Sicily from the same time period.
2200 to 800 BCE – Date uncertain. Phoenicians start colonizing Malta.
600 BCE – Malta falls to Carthage, along with other Phoenician colonies.
400 BCE – Greek Hellenic artifacts and architecture from this era have been found.
255 BCE – Roma invades Malta during the first Punic War.
218 BCE – Malta finally falls to Rome during the second Punic War.
60 CE – In the Bible’s Acts, St. Paul is shipwrecked on the island of Malita. Many researchers conflate this island with Malta. The place where the holy man reached ground is called St. Paul’s Bay today.
535 CE – Malta becomes part of the Byzantine Empire.
870 CE – Malta becomes part of the Muslim Empire.
1194 CE – Malta becomes part of the Norman Empire.
1530 CE – Charles the 5th hands the island over to the Knights of Malta. Through their defense of Malta and their contributions to architecture, art, the Italian language, etc., the knights became powerful and rich. Many great battles took place between the knights and the Ottoman Empire.
1798 CE – Napoleon is initially rebuffed by Malta, when he asks for safe harbor and to acquire supplies for his ships. Very quickly, Napoleon takes over the islands and institutes many important changes into the Maltese government and other sectors.
1974 CE – Malta officially becomes a republic.
The Hypogeum Of Hal Saflieni
(Hypogeum is Latin for underground structure. Hal Saflieni is the name of the street above the Hypogeum.)
Lois Jessop’s description: The walls were painted with red ochre. The structure had three levels to it. The entrance was narrow and low, prompting visitors to crouch.
A legend was told of an oracle or wishing well in the deeper levels. Initiates who knew the correct sound to use would have their inquiries answered. Speech, musical instruments and sounds are mysteriously modified in tone and volume. The resonance affects human bodies in a way similar to subwoofers in vehicles. Standing waves are created. Noises sound as if they are coming from all directions, and from the stone walls. In modern times, the structure is known as a good place for meditation and hypnosis.
Several passes have ceilings so low the visitors have to crouch. Witnesses saw stone beds or resting places, and hollows in the rock built in human proportions that people could stand in. Smaller beds were measured for people that were four feet tall. One room might have three beds, for father, mother and one child.
Visitors would stoop or crawl in the lower levels. They saw slits in the walls. Inside the slits, skeletons or caves could be seen. They found a stone door three feet thick, four feet high and four feet wide. How strong were the pygmies that could move that door?
At one point, the guides states the visitors have reached the end of the tour. Jessop wants to explore further, but she is told it would be at her own risk. Along with a few others, she goes on. She finds a ledge walkway two feet wide, with a drop of 50 feet to the side. While holding a candle out toward the void, Jessop claims she saw a long file of Giants. These people were 20 to 25 feet tall. When the wind blew out Jessop’s candle, she backed up and forced the others to back up along the same small path. Apparently, nobody else saw the Giants, and she was too scared to tell them about it. (Hmmm.)
Later, it was reported that a schoolteacher and 30 children disappeared in the same off-limits area. As the story goes, it was once possible to travel from one end of Malta to the other through the underground tunnels. The story of the missing children was only circulated locally, but many entrances to the tunnels were closed off. When the tunnels were first discovered, the skeletal remains of 30,000 people were cleared out, suggesting that there are inhabitants there today who might be Giant and / or pygmy cannibals. On the other hand, the tunnels may have simply been massive burial chambers for the dead of Malta’s many wars.
Jessop’s description of the Giants: Their clothing was like long, white hair. It was combed down and shaggy. Their heads were long and elongated at the top and chin. The hair came down to the shoulders. One researcher thinks she may have seen a tribe of Yeti, or Abominable Snowmen. There is simply no verification or confirmation of this story.
The account of the missing children appeared in the August 1940 issue of National Geographic. Jessup’s article appeared in the magazine Borderland Science, later reprinted in the book Enigma Fantastique.
Jimmy Swagger interview: For this review, I’m only touching on subjects I haven’t heard mentioned before. We have a repeat guess of an unknown culture that goes back 4,000 years, with advanced knowledge of engineering and acoustics. Swagger mentions a pit that is 26 feet deep at the bottom of the third level. This pit may go on further, but guides don’t allow people in there. The guides are very selective when lighting up that portion of their tour.
The oracle chamber at the bottom of the third floor is capable of resonating throughout the entire three levels.
Hexagons on the ceiling are painted in red ochre. There is no natural red ochre in Malta, giving rise to speculation that it may have come from Italy. Other artwork has the shape of the female womb and the solar wheel with 8 spokes. The only wall artwork I heard mention of in any other media were the many spirals.
Swagger describes a ceremonial bowl at Tarxien Temple. This bowl is triangular, concave at the bottom and weighs about 1 ton. This bowl is similar to one found in Ireland at a megalithic mound.
Another place with similar acoustical properties as the Hypogeum is found in Colombia. Colombian and Ireland shamanic art are very similar. The problem linking Malta to Colombia is that the timeframe when the structures were built does not match.
The mainstream theory is that primitive people used antler horns to dig out the temple at Malta out. Seriously, mainstream turkeys, that’s the best you can do here? Antler horns on solid rock, huh? That’s as bad as hammers and chisels supposedly used to build the pyramids. To contradict that, mechanical drill holes have been found in Malta. These perforations are like the ones modern demolition might use before dynamite charges are set.
Update: On the bottom 3rd floor are the ‘burial chambers.’ These are low to the ground. People have to go to their knees to see into them. They are only large enough to crawl through. The rumor is that these chambers lead into deeper caverns.
The Cave Of Ghar Dalam
This cave is one of the oldest archeological sites on Malta. What’s interesting here is the speculation that land once connected Malta to Sicily some 7,000 years ago. Even further back than that, as far as 130,000 years ago, fossils have been found of animals that were native to Europe and North Africa. I’ve read where if a habitat shrinks over a short, abrupt period of time, the animals will also shrink, and we see evidence of that here. Among the dwarf species of animals found in the fossil record are elephants, hippos, red deer and brown bears. If humans can shrink in the same way, we have corroboration of a potential race of four-foot humans that may have built some of the underground passages with low ceilings and four-foot doors.
An adult elephant molar testifies to the animal being 90 centimeters high (3 feet).