Tarxien Temples

The Tarxien Temples ( pronunciation: [ tarʃiɛn ] ) in Tarxien, Malta were built from about 3250 BC to 2500 BC. The plant of the Neolithic period since 1992 has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site " Megalithic Temples of Malta " and was included in the National Inventory of Cultural Property of the Maltese Islands.


The temple complex of Tarxien consists of four separate, consecutive and structurally interconnected temples. In 1956, the entire complex has been completely renovated. The main entrance is incurred in the course of reconstruction replica. Same time, many decorated stone blocks were replaced by copies and the originals moved to the Archaeological Museum of Valletta, to protect them from weathering. The first temple was built about 3100 BC It is the most richly decorated temples in Malta. The middle temple was built around 3000 BC. He is unique in that he has different than the rest of the Maltese temples, three symmetrical Apsidenpaare instead of the usual one or two Apsidenpaare. The eastern temple was built around 3100 BC The structural remains of another, smaller and older temple, whose time of origin has been dated to 3250 BC are found in the east.

The outer walls of the temple are made of hard coral limestone, which was difficult to work with. The inner walls are made of up to 20 -ton blocks of Globigerina limestone. Also statues, reliefs, altars and shrines were knocked out of this soft form of limestone. Of particular importance is the elaborate natural stone masonry with relief depictions of domestic animals, which are located on altars and stone slabs and decorated with an abstract spiral designs and other patterns. Exemplary of the technical skills of the builders is a relief that is located in the doorway between the southern and the central temple and represents a bull and a sow. In the temples many trinkets and statuettes and pottery have been found. It is suspected a connection with the nearby Hypogeum of Hal Hypogeum. Accordingly, the system of Tarxien could have been a temple for the living and the Hypogeum, was found in the remains of 7,000 skeletons, a temple and also a burial place for the dead.

Function and structure in the Neolithic

During the excavations it was found that the temple complex was mainly used for animal sacrifice. Tarxien allows rare glimpses into the way of building the megaliths of Malta, since near the southern temple stone scrolls were found. Signs of cremation in the middle of the southern temple provided evidence for the use of the plant as a Bronze Age grave space.


The large stone blocks were discovered in 1914 by farmers plowing. After also accidental discovery of the nearby Hypogeum suspected the owner of the land that the large stones that had been struck by the plows of farm workers, could have archaeological significance. He sat down with the director of the National Museum, Themistocles Zammit, in conjunction, which began to dig even at a first visit to the site and discovered the center of the temple complex. Zammit found a system that was formed by a semicircle of hewn stones of enormous size and an apse possible. Over a period of three years led Zammit with the help of local farmers and additional workers out of the city an excavation project through which it had never been done before on this scale in Malta. By 1920, Zammit had identified and restored five different interconnected temple, and amassed a remarkable collection of works of art. Among them is the famous, originally about 3 m high statue of the " Magna Mater", the depiction of a mother goddess or fertility symbol, of which, however, only the lower half is obtained. Many unique testimonies of prehistoric artistic heritage of Malta belong to this collection of Themistocles Zammit.


The discovery of the temple complex contributed to the development of national identity Malta and confirmed the existence of an ancient culture on the island. Through the discoveries the public interest in Malta's historical treasures was awakened and recognized the need to form a management for the preservation of art treasures and to enact laws to protect them. Simultaneously, the excavation methods Zammits established a new, scientific archeology opinion.