Malta’s Megalithic Temples – an Artist’s View 2
There are endless theories surrounding all prehistoric structures, and the Maltese temples are no exception. Some theories are based on scientific evidence, some on intuition and some on pure fantasy. There is no way of really knowing the absolute truth; even archaeologists are biased by conventional thinking. They are generally unwilling to look too far beyond anything that can be proven scientifically, as then they are faced with too many unanswerable questions. Many of their conclusions are questionable, such as the idea that temples were built for the same reason as our modern churches, i.e. to honour and appease their gods. Looking at an elevated flat stone and calling it an ‘altar’ with all the connotations of priests and rituals is quite a subjective interpretation. Evidence of some kind of ceremonial use in the past does not necessarily mean that the Maltese temples were erected for that purpose.
I spent an afternoon in one of the temples with a psychic and he was sure that the flat stones were used for preparing food! We laughed about it being a prehistoric Pizza Hut! Maybe it was and maybe not, my point is that one theory is as good as another when it comes to putting two and two together based purely on the evidence of our eyes.
Conventional archaeologists and scholars are of the opinion that the Hypogeum, Malta’s amazing underground temple at Hal-Saflieni, was simply an elaborate burial chamber. Just because piles of human bones were found when it was excavated do not prove it was carefully carved solely to store them. After all, we have been led to believe that the pyramids were built as tombs for the Pharaohs, but no bodies have ever been found in one.
Many of the ‘facts’ do not make sense. The oldest of the temples, Ggantija on Gozo is the most sophisticated and largest of them all. How and why did a tiny population build such a stupendous structure? Where did the practical knowledge come from? Why were subsequent temples less and less impressive?
It can be shown that some temples, such as Mnajdra, were carefully erected to track the annual journey of the sun between winter and summer equinoxes. Twice a year, the light from the rising sun streams into the temple and lights up the ‘altar’ deep within. Two huge ‘sunstones’ either side of the altar show the sun’s movement throughout the year. It seems that a function of the temple was to track the journey of the sun, moon and perhaps even the planets throughout the year.
According to one unconventional theory, Mnajdra is very slightly out of alignment – in fact by 2 centimetres. As the earth spins on its axis at a slight tilt, alignments change very slightly with time. Apparently the ‘perfect’ alignment has only happened twice in the last 15,000 years – once in 3,700 BC (when the temple was supposedly built) and again, earlier, in 10,205 BC. It is possible to carbon date artefacts, but not the temple stones themselves. Could the temple could be very much older than we think? And, because not all the temples in Malta are aligned in the same direction, were they built when the earth was at different angles to the sun?
I certainly don’t know, and neither does anyone else really. That’s what makes it all so fascinating…… I am not psychic, but I am sensitive to energies and feelings that emanate from our supposedly inanimate surroundings. There is a deep rhythm which pulses through our world, connecting us to each other and to everything around us. When I am deeply absorbed in painting, I can enter a state very close to meditation, where I am somewhere outside of time and reality. Impressions which come to me in that state often make no ordinary sense, but they are often inspirational and always interesting.
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