Myth or Mystery.




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Underground tunnels and channels.

Myths or mysteries – Malta overflows with them ranging from theories that Malta was the ‘nerve control centre’ of the lost continent Atlantis to regular reports of UFO ‘sightings’, a huge explosion a few years back which has never been properly or scientifically explained, and all the myths and mysteries that swirl around the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum.


Myths or Mysteries

Malta is a honeycomb of mysterious caves and caverns, lengthy underground tunnels that submerge below sea level and stretch into the Central Mediterranean. Mysterious cart tracks on land have never been scientifically explained, again causing extravagant ‘explanations’ and speculations of whether they were forms of Stone Age vehicle carriages, or maybe material transporters, or whatever purpose they served.


The most popular theory is that the continent Atlantis surrounded Malta as its centre and messages were relayed to the ‘Malta Station’ from outer space and then relayed by Malta throughout the continent. Stone tablet letter carvings were certified as being identical to stone tablets found in some parts of the United States!


Are these the skulls of aliens from Outer Space.

However, the real impetus of mystery took place in 1910 when workmen in the Tarxien area were digging residential water wells and burst through the roof of a vast underground chamber that turned out to be an enormous catacomb burial chamber. It was named the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum and further excavations and studies were placed in the hands of medical doctor and archaeological historian Sir Themistocles Zammit who drew up a preliminary report in the same year.


Zammit recorded finding skeletal fragments and the remains of some ten skulls which he measured, at a time when there was an ongoing international debate about the linking of different sized skulls to different ethnicities. Basically, there are three different types of Earth skulls and Zammit reported that those found were of the long-headed type.


Are skulls related to etnicinity.

From that point onwards speculation began to run rife, pointing out these skulls did not relate to current Maltese skull shapes and were therefore totally alien skulls. Speculation grew even wilder, claiming the length of the skulls was hitherto unknown on Planet Earth and therefore the only possible conclusion had to be their origins were not Planet Earth but some other planet.


Some linked the skulls to “snake” or “serpent” priests as depicted in skull paintings and inscriptions found in the Egyptian Pyramids.


To fuel speculation further, the skulls were put on display in Malta’s National Museum of Archaeology but suddenly withdrawn from public display in 1980s, a move interpreted to mean the museum was trying to “cover up” the evidence so as not to cause further public alarm at a time when UFO ‘sightings’ were becoming popular.

An elongated skull.


The reason forwarded by the museum was that they were simply long skulls and not ‘elongated’ skulls and were therefore not special, over and above, anybody wishing to carry out scientific studies could apply to the authorities to be given access to them.


Moving on 30 or so years to today, speculation has dwindled and those who view the skulls confirm they are nothing more than long skulls and therefore conform to the three basic Earth skull shapes.


Hal Saflieni Hypogeum – a UNESCO site.

As if this was not enough to be getting on with, in 1940 National Geographic magazine reported that some years earlier a group of schoolchildren visiting the Hypogeum and accompanied by a teacher disappeared and were never seen again.


B-c-ing-u site motivator and Editor Lyn Funnell has written a detailed and highly popular article about this which can still be read on the site and therefore I will not go into it.

Malta’s Catacombs, Aliens & The Disappearing Children; True or Urban Myth?

Bone fragments and skulls at The Hypogeum.


However, National Geographic also reported that for many weeks after their disappearance, ‘wailing and screaming’ sounds could be heard around the Hypogeum vicinity.


Reporting Malta’s ‘missing children’.

When asked about this ‘myth’ Heritage Malta’s Senior Curator of Prehistoric Sites Katya Stroud explained that a similar incident also surrounded the St Paul’s Catacombs at Rabat and such “happenings” were ploys invented by the authorities to keep curious people – especially children – away from the sites so as to avoid dangerous repercussions.


Sir Themi’s report also led to a further source of speculation. His investigations had concluded that from the skeletal fragments found, as many as 7,000 people may have been buried in the Hypogeum based on his having found 100 skeletons in a particularly small area. Taken overall, this could mean 7,000 burials over the years.


UFO ‘sightings’ and elongated skulls

As during the Stone Age and Iron Age the populations of Malta and Gozo were minimal, this was interpreted to mean that people from “other sources” could also have been buried there, and linked to the ‘elongated skulls’, this could surely lead to only one thing – alien skulls.


And there matters stand – myths or mysteries? Malta and Gozo abound with them!


The Hypogeum.

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On a weekly basis I am inserting a Maltese saying, expression or proverb and where possible English equivalents that will help give insight into the Maltese psyche.



“Trying to keep up with God and the Devil”

Somebody trying to do everything at once; trying to keep updated on everything; trying to please both extremes; wanting to keep all sides happy.

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Different types of Earth skulls.


Skulls found at The Hypogeum.