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The Ggantija Temples were probably dedicated to the Earth Mother Goddess of Fertility.
Known as the Temple of Giants the 2 temples were excavated by John Otto Bayer in 1827 and restoration work was carried out in the early 20th century to ensure their preservation.
The GgantijaTemples in Gozo are one of the most important archaeological sites in Malta. At more than 5500 years old, they are the world's oldest free-standing structures, and the world's oldest religious sites, older even than the Pyramids and Stonehenge.
The temples were probably a site of veneration to the Earth Mother Goddess of Fertility and numerous figurines and statues were found on the site believed to be connected with that religious cult.
Each temple consists of five apses connected by a central aisle whch leads to the innermost section and is built with giant limestone blocks, some of them weighing 50 tons, which are among the largest used anywhere on Malta for temple building.
The first temple is larger and features altars, relief carvings and libation holes. The second one was built later and does not have these features. Of interest is the evidence of the inwardly inclined walls suggesting that the temple was roofed.
All the Maltese temples of which there are several, were built without the benefit of metal tools, or the wheel. In Gozo alone there are about 13 archaeological ruins, including Ggantija. The temples are built of a mixture of coralline and globigerina limestone and have a concave facade, with a platform outside for the worshipers built of flat large stones covered with crushed earth (torba).
The rough walls of the temple interior was originally smoothed with an application of clay and coated with a thin layer of lime plaster.
"The construction of these buildings demonstrate a mastery of quarrying, stone working, building and engraving techniques and must be the work of a mature, confident culture. Like stone circles in the British Isles some appear to be concerned with the passage of the seasons as indicated by their position in relation to the Sun". (Extract from Archaeology and Prehistory of Malta).
Legend has it that a giant woman called Sansuna carried the stones on her head while at the same time she carried a baby strapped to her back. Hence the legendary belief in the Temple of the Giants.
Neolithic people of the time made use of a number of natural caves as evidenced by the Xaghra Stone Circle. This was originally marked by two entrance monoliths which seem to have been 14 -16 feet high and could have possibly been aligned with the Ggantija Temples situated some distance away. Together with other megaliths they formed part of a wall which circled the entire site which had a diameter of approximately 45 meters.
A huge stone threshold leads down steps into the rough caves whose interior consists of a central ritual area which is subdivided into two distinct sections by a series of elegant trilithon altars and a massive stone bowl.
Burials were concentrated in smaller caverns, surrounded by rough coralline stone walls and the most impressive discoveries from the Xaghra Stone Circle are the rare but remarkably preserved human remains - - disassembled human bones (of male and female adults and children), whole skeletons, pottery and flint tools as well as shell ornaments and bone artifacts.
The quantity of ‘red ochre’ found here suggests the association of the red colour (signifying blood) to the burial ceremonial rites.
The Temple People disappeared abruptly and without a trace, somewhere around 2300 BC, leaving archaeologists and anthropologists a hard task to discover further knowledge of this mysterious epoch of our Islands' past. (Work in Progress)
Go Back to Gozo Island from Ggantija Temples Gozo
Is it possible that Human Sacrifices were offered at Ggantija thousands of years ago?
Be sure to read the story of Salina who on that fateful night was chosen to be sacrificed on the altar of the Ggantija Temples.
Rent a house or a Room in Gozo, Malta