Category Archives: Archaeology

Orichalcum: the Metal of the Gods

Rumored by Ancient Greeks to have been mined in Atlantis, Orichalcum, the Metal of the Gods has been recovered off the coast of Sicily, from a ship that sunk 2,600 years ago. Its composition and origin argued over, Orichalcum’s existence has long been thought a myth by scholars and historians alike.

The 39 Orichalucum ingots recovered
The 39 Orichalucum ingots recovered

Orichalcum first appears in the 7th century BC in the Homeric hymn dedicated to Aphrodite, dated to the 630s attributed to Hesiod. According to Plato’s Critias, the three outer walls of the Temple to Poseidon and Cleito on Atlantis were clad respectively with brass, tin, and the third outer wall, which encompassed the whole citadel, “flashed with the red light of orichalcum”. The interior walls, pillars and floors of the temple were completely covered in orichalcum, and the roof was variegated with gold, silver, and orichalcum. In the center of the temple stood a pillar of orichalcum, on which the laws of Poseidon and records of the first son princes of Poseidon were inscribed.

Orichalcum also appears in the writings of the Jews. In Antiquities of the Jews Josephus, wrote that the vessels in the Temple of Solomon were made of orichalcum. Pliny the Elder points out that the metal had lost currency due to the mines being exhausted. Pseudo-Aristotle in De mirabilibus auscultationibus describes orichalcum as a shining metal produced during the smelting of copper with the addition of “calmia” (zinc oxide).

Rare Orichalcum coins from Ancient Rome
Rare Orichalcum coins from Ancient Rome

The cast metal which possibly came from Greece or Asia Minor was being delivered to Gela in southern Sicily when it sunk off its coast. The ship that was carrying them was likely caught in a storm just when it was about to enter the port. The 39 ingots recovered from the wreck were destined to be used in workshops in the making of high quality decorations.
“The wreck dates to the first half of the sixth century. It was found about 1,000 feet from Gela’s coast at a depth of 10 feet.”
-Sebastiano Tusa, Sicily’s superintendent of the Sea Office.

A total of 39 Orichalum ingots were recovered from the sea floor surrounding the wreckage, a truly rare and unique find. Considering researches only new of the metal through the study of ancient text and a few ornamental objects. Nothing similar has ever been found, in fact the metal’s very existence was long considered false.

Sicilian Team excavating the Ship wreck
Sicilian Team excavating the Ship wreck

The mysterious metal was said to have been forged by Cadmus, according to the ancient Greeks, a largely mythical character of Greeko-Phoenician origin. It was not however until the fourth century B.C. Greek philosopher Plato cited it in the Critias dialogue that the legend of orichalcum was birthed into the world. Plato, in describing Atlantis as flashing “with the red light of orichalcum,” wrote that the metal, second only in value to gold, was mined in Atlantis and furnished Poseidon’s temple interior, walls, columns and floors.

With the find off the Sicilian Coast, the metal’s authenticity of which there is little doubt. Today most scholars agree orichalcum is a brass-like alloy, which was made in antiquity by cementation in a crucible. Adding and aiding the process with the reaction of zinc ore, charcoal and copper metal. Through further investigation conducted with X-ray fluorescence,the composition of the material is now confirmed. The 39 ingots are an alloy made with 75-80 percent copper, 15-20 percent zinc and small percentages of nickel, lead and iron.

“The finding confirms that about a century after its foundation in 689 B.C., Gela grew to become a wealthy city with artisan workshops specialized in the production of prized artifacts,” Tusa said. To add fire to the debate and shrouding the metal in even more mystery are the findings of Enrico Mattievich, a retired professor of physics who taught at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). According to Mattievich the ingots are not properly made from orichalcum. “It appears they are lumps of latone metal, an alloy of copper, zinc and lead,” Mattievich, who has led a number of studies in physics applied to mineralogy, paleontology and archaeology, is one of the scholars who disagree on orichalcum being a brass based metal.

Orichalcum twins found in Central America
Orichalcum twins found in Central America

Further confusing the debate, while other scholars equated the mysterious metal to amber and to other copper based alloys, Mattievich believes orichalcum has its roots in the Peruvian Andes and in the Chavín civilization that developed there from 1200 B.C. to 200 B.C. As chronicled in his book “Journey to the Mythological Inferno” Mattievic claims that the ancient Greeks had discovered America, and there, a metallic alloy “with fire-like reflections” similar to Plato’s description was found in a set of metallic jaguars of Chavin style, which were revealed to be made of 9 percent copper, 76 percent gold and 15 percent silver.
Whatever the origins and nature of orichalcum, Tusa’s team plans to excavate the shipwreck and bring to surface the entire cargo. “It will provide us with precious information on Sicily’s most ancient
economic history,” Tusa said.

Who Cracked the Rosetta Stone?

Its discovery is regarded as a pivotal moment in code-breaking history. The secret of hieroglyphs was cracked by scholars with help from a section of granite carved with pictographs, the written ‘languages’ of the ancient Greeks & Egyptians.  The Rosetta Stone afforded us a Glimpse into one of the world’s greatest cultures, through the dillegent work of 18th and 19th century European scholars, the once elusive language of the Egyptians was made comprehensible to modern man- or so we are lead to believe.

Nelson Destroyed Napoleon’s Navy and Trapped him in Egypt

A London researcher claims that hieroglyphs had been decoded by an Arabic alchemist, Abu Bakr Ahmad Ibn Wahshiyah hundreds of years earlier.  The canon in Western thinking has been challenged by Dr Okasha El Daly, from UCL’s Institute of Archaeology who claims Western scholars were not the first to decipher the ancient script, and found evidence that shows Arabian scholars broke the code a thousand years before.

The stone’s discovery was made by Bonaparte’s troops during their Egyptian campaigns. The 1.5 metre high granite slab was uncovered when soldiers

The Rosetta Stone

knocked down a wall of Fort St Julien, near the city of Rosetta on 20 August 1799. Egyptian writing prior to the stone’s discovery & later decipherment had been illegible. Rubbings were taken of the stone’s inscriptions – two styles of hieroglyphics and one of ancient Greek – and they were sent back to France for further examination.  The full length and total size of the text of the original stele, of which the Rosetta Stone is a fragment, can be guessed at by comparing stelae & other copies of the same order.  In a similiar stele a hieroglyphic sign for “stela” on the stone itself suggests that it originally had a rounded top & estimated to have been about 149 centimetres in height.

Leon Cogniet L Expedition D Egypte Sous Les Ordres De Bonaparte

When French troops in 1801 surrendered Egypt to Britain, the victors demanded the Stone be included in the surrender. The French authorities refused but after much deliberation & threats of retribution, it was taken to the British Museum on board the captured French frigate HMS l’Egyptienne. An unusual aspect of the Egyptian expedition was the inclusion of a contingent of 167 scientists assigned to the French force. These scholars included engineers and artists, members of the Commission des Sciences et des Arts, the geologist Dolomieu, Henri-Joseph Redouté, the mathematician Gaspard Monge, the chemist Claude Louis Berthollet, Vivant Denon, the mathematician Jean-Joseph Fourier, the physicist Étienne Malus, the naturalist Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, the botanist Alire Raffeneau-Delile, and the engineer Nicolas-Jacques Conté of the Conservatoire national des arts et métiers. This deployment of intellectuals is considered by some Historians as an indication of Napoleon’s devotion to the principles of the Enlightenment and by others as propaganda obscuring the true motives of an imperialist expansion. Considering Napoleon’s Freemasonic roots, & his penchant for unorthodox strategies this author believes it may have been partly both.

Napoleon in Egypt (1868)-Gerome

According to popular History The granodiorite Rosetta Stone was found in a fort wall by French engineers during Napoleon’s military campaign in Egypt. The Stele – now displayed in the British Museum – contains a text in Greek, Coptic and Hieroglyph, but would not be interpreted for another 23 years to be decoded, first believed to have been achieved by a student of ancient languages, Jean-François Champollion. The breakthrough came in 1822 with the discovery that the sound associated with each symbol was crucial to deciphering it. Champollion realised hieroglyphs should be read, not as symbols of ideas or objects, but as a phonetic script.  As the story goes Champollion fell into a five day coma after the discovery. He continued his work, for a further decade until his death and is buried in Paris’s Père Lachaise cemetery. The Stone is inscribed with a decree issued at Memphis in 196 BC on behalf of King Ptolomy V. Because the same decree was written in 3 distinct languages it provided the key to its decipherment

Reconstruction of Rosetta Stone Stele

The study of Egyptology had been dominated for two and half centuries by a Euro-centric view that throughly ignored Arabic scholarship. However claims have been recently raised pertaining to the discovery by arabic scholars that put Champollion’s creditation in doubt and that the Rosetta Stone was already decoded, eight centuries earlier. An expert in both ancient Egypt and ancient Arabic scripts, El Daly spent seven years studying Arabic manuscripts in private collections around the world looking for evidence that Arab scholars had unlocked the secrets of hieroglyphs. He eventually found it in the work of the ninth-century alchemist, Ibn Wahshiyah. The code to understanding the ancient script was lost to antiquity and then rediscovered by Arab scholars, who deciphered the language, a whole eight centuries prior to Champollion. These were people who possessed great astronomical and mathematical knowledge. Decoding hieroglyphs & other written codes was well within their skill sets.  These were learned peoples & not wandering pockets of people disconnected by a primitive desert.

Sadly, many of the antiquities collected by the French campaign were seized by the British Navy and ended up in the British Museum including the fabled stone itself.  Protests by the Egyptian Government on behalf of the Cairo Museum to return the stone have been rejected by the British authorites and remains to this day property of the British Royal Museum.  Napoleon’s discoveries in Egypt however still gave rise to a fascination with Ancient Egyptian culture and the birth of Egyptology in Europe.

The Pillars of Latin Atlantis

Buried in the vast marshlands of the Dona Ana Park, lies what researchers believe could be the ancient, multi-ringed city of Atlantis in the mud flats of southern Spain.

Artist Depiction of Atlantis

From the time of Plato’s writings, the Enigma that is Atlantis has intrigued & confounded experts and layman alike. If this dominant economic and militant force of the ancient world truly existed why is there so little evidence to prove it? Can we look at the story of Atlantis and find evidence of Biblical accounts of the Book of Genesis, namely the great flood of the Bible? As some historians suggest the ancient Atlanteans were a sea faring peoples determined to map the earth and the stars above.  Some circumstantial evidence of this may be found in the maps of the ancient sea kings, such as the mysterious piri reis map which describes an Antarctica free of ice long believed before the time of its discovery.

Discoveries at several off shore sights in the Mediterranean point to a well established Atlantean coastal empire that may point to not only its existence but also its burial by Sea. These findings indicate that this ancient civilisation founded by the mythical figure of Atlas possessed highly advanced navigation methods and nautical skills which allowed them to successfully measure and map the Earth. Thereby allowing them the ability to traverse the globe establishing an global empire that was wiped out at the end of the ice-age.

Plato’s Capitol of Atlantis

It is part of the historical record that the end of the last ice age was around 12,000 years ago. The earliest surviving source of the story of Atlantis is the Greek philosopher Plato. Plato and his learnered contemporaries knew nothing of ice-ages, but nonetheless set the demise of Atlantis at this precise date. There are over 200 known sunken cities in the Mediterranean. These ruins are prolific megalithic constructions that are very distinct, indicating they were erected by the same civilisation during the same architectural period. From the great pyramid of Giza to Stonehenge in England and to Baalbek, megalithic building with gigantic sculpted stone is considered by academia to have begun around 2500BC. This construction method can be found throughout the ancient world in Greece, Spain and even South America indicating a central source.

Satellite Photo Location of Proposed Sight of Atlantis in Spain
Satellite Photo Location of Proposed Sight of Atlantis in Spain

Plato described Atlantis 2,600 years ago, as an island in front of the straits which were called the Pillars of Hercules, but are now known as the Straits of Gibraltar. There have been significant discoveries here of submerged megaliths off the coast of southern Spain, off the shores of Lixus Morocco, West of Gibraltar, Tarifa, Cadiz, Rota and Chipiona. All within this same region. A team of American researchers analysed satellite imagery of a suspected submerged city just north of Cadiz, Spain. There, buried in the vast marshlands of the Dona Ana Park, they believe that they may have pinpointed the ancient, multi-ringed city of Atlantis.

Early depiction based on Plato’s writings

Atlantis was an ancient seafaring culture with advanced knowledge of astronomy, global mapping and complex mathematics. According to Plato the City of Atlantis was a port city with concentric canals leading to an inner city and port. The city of Carthage built in Tunisia by the Phoneticians was an identical if smaller version of this building model. Discovery in central Spain of a strange series of memorial cities, built in Atlantis’ image by its refugees after the city’s likely destruction by a tsunami also point to the idea that survivors of the catastrophe ventured out into the world and passed down there knowledge to other cultures.

What little evidence we have points to Atlantis as being a maritime civilisation, not unlike the ancient Phoneticians, connected together by a globally distributed network of coastlines. The reason there is so little evidence that historians will accept is because those coastlines have long since been submerged with the rising of the oceans, and are not being seriously explored. Influences of a great lost civilisation can be found in the Mediterranean and the Eastern side of what is now called the Atlantic ocean and this is the most likely candidate for an advanced culture which is now believed to have been destroyed by tsunami.  If these findings prove accurate and the sunken ruins prove to be Atlantis dated correctly, then the discovery will challenge, if not destabilise the prevailing Scientific theories of the Age and Advancement of Modern Humans.

Göbekli Tepe

Göbekli Tepe Excavation Site
Göbekli Tepe Excavation Site

Prior to Göbekli Tepe it was assumed , that Sumerian society was the first advanced civilisation.  6,000 years before the invention of writing neolithic cultures carved intricate designs, sigils and images in stone, most of which concern themselves with farming and fertility.  But Stone tools did not carve these reliefs. Gobekli Tepe’s pillar carvings however are dominated not by edible prey like deer and cattle but by predators like lions, spiders, snakes and scorpions.  Some cultures have long believed that high-flying carrion birds transported the flesh of the dead up to the heavens indicating a concern of an afterlife.  But the temples’ true purpose lays beneath the half buried pillars and yet to be excavated by archaeologists and anthropologists.

Unlike the stark plateaus nearby, from Gobekli Tepe, perched 1,000 feet above a valley in Turkey , one can see to the horizon in nearly every direction. This is the temple of Göbekli Tepe. 500 miles away from Istanbul lies a hilltop sanctuary erected on the highest point of an elongated mountain ridge some 15 km northeast of the town of Şanlıurfa, in southeastern Turkey. It is the most astonishing archaeological discovery in modern times and also thought to be the oldest advanced civilization on Earth.

Predating Stonehenge by 6,000 years, the stunning temple upends the conventional view of the rise of civilization. Massive carved stones about

Artist Impression of Construction of Göbekli Tepe
Artist Impression of Construction of Göbekli Tepe

11,000 years old, crafted and arranged by prehistoric people who had not yet developed metal tools or even pottery.  Each ring has a roughly similar layout: in the center are two large stone T-shaped pillars encircled by slightly smaller stones facing inward. The tallest pillars tower 16 feet and weigh between seven and ten tons.   Some are blank, while others are elaborately carved: foxes, lions, scorpions and vultures abound, twisting and crawling on the pillars’ broad sides.  Gobekli Tepe sits at the northern edge of the Fertile Crescent—an arc of mild climate and arable land from the Persian Gulf to present-day Lebanon, Israel, Jordan and Egypt—and would have attracted hunter-gatherers from Africa and the Levant.  16 other megalith rings remain buried across 22 acres archaeologists could dig here for another 50 years and barely scratch the surface.

This area is the real origin of complex Neolithic societies. In constructing the temple, once the stone rings were finished, the ancient builders covered them over with dirt. Eventually, they placed another ring nearby or on top of the old one. Over centuries, these layers created the hilltop.  examined at the site are more than 100,000 bone fragments from Gobekli Tepe, often found with cut marks and splintered edges on them, indicative of the butchering and cooking of these animals.  Found were Gazelle bones, and other wild game such as boar, sheep and red deer. Also discovered were bones of a dozen different bird species, including vultures, cranes, ducks and geese.  The abundance of wild game remains is a clear indication that the people who lived here had not managed farms or domesticated animals.  A situation that was about to change.

Inside GobekliTepe
Inside GobekliTepe

Archeologists have found evidence indicating the temple builders were on the verge of a major change in

how they lived. this was the discovery that the environment which they had settled held the raw materials for farming. Including wild sheep, wild grains that could be domesticated. Research at other sites in the region has shown that within 1,000 years of Gobekli Tepe’s construction, settlers had corralled sheep, cattle and pigs. And, at a prehistoric village just 20 miles away, geneticists found evidence of the world’s oldest domesticated strains of wheat; radiocarbon dating indicates agriculture developed there around 10,500 years ago, five centuries after Gobekli Tepe’s construction.

To carve, erect and bury rings of seven-ton stone pillars would have required hundreds of

Strange Animist Carvings
Strange Animist Carvings

workers, all needing to be fed and housed. Hence the eventual emergence of settled communities in the area around 10,000 years ago.  The extensive, coordinated effort to build the temple monoliths literally laid the groundwork for the development of complex societies.  The accepted theory by academia is that it was once farming and domestication of animals was established that social structures and temples of worship were built, but Gobekli Tepe contradicts this assessment.   To carve, erect and bury rings of seven-ton stone pillars would have required hundreds of workers, all needing to be fed

and housed. Hence the eventual emergence of settled communities in the area around 10,000 years ago.

Prior to the discovery of 20 possible writing symbols on the pillars of the temple, it was believed that the first written language was ascribed to the ancient Sumerians in perhaps 3200 BCE. Göbekli Tepe moves this back to at least 10,000 BCE.  signs of a very high level of cooperation spanning almost 3000 years at Göbekli Tepe.  It was also believed that the discovery of the wheel did not surface until 3000 BCE in Sumeria, again Tepe contadicts this with evidence of roads that show tracks formed in what was mud and limestone over 100s if not 1000s of years.   Interestingly, 60 miles northeast of Göbekli Tepe at Karaca Dağgrows grows the closest known ancestor of Einkorn Wheat. This strain has been domesticated and dates back to about the time this site was in peak use.  there is also the earliest evidence of bread-making and beer making.  Prior to this beer-brewing in vats was believed to have started in China about 5000 BCE.

Obscure Glyphs decorate Stone Pillars
Obscure Glyphs decorate Stone Pillars

The most perplexing anomaly that Göbekli Tepe presents is not only just how sophisticated and organised a culture had to be to build and operate such a complex, that all evidence indicates was free of conflict for 3000 years, but what would convince this culture to bury it.  What is even more fascinating is the fact that the technology had to have already existed and the mechanical aptitude in place well in advance of the temple’s initial construction.  this article was made possible by the research of Professor Klaus Schmidt, the chief Researcher and Archeologist on site.  Professor Schmidt recognised the significance of the site after it was largely dismissed by University of Chicago and Istanbul University anthropologists in the 1960s.

Malta’s Antideluvian Temples

Hypogeum in Malta

A most important, ancient, human skull vanished from the Valletta Museum of Archaeology, not long after the death of Professor Sir Themistocles Zammit. The characteristics of this artifact suggest that modern man originates primarily from the Mediterranean and secondary from Africa.

The remnants of 50 temples have been found  on the islands of Malta and nearby Gozo, with 23 in varying states of preservation.  Almost all of these are constructed  using identical architectural methods and principles.  These primarily being a central corridor leading through two or more ellipsoidal chambers heading toward a small altar apse at the far end. The Herculean outer shell of the walls are formed of great blocks of stone propped on end or on edge as orthostats. Internal walls are either of piled rough coralline blocks, or well-cut slabs. All the walls consist of two faces, the space between being packed with earth or rubble. Doorways and passages all use the trilithon principle: two orthostats parallel to each other to support a horizontal lintel. Frequently doorways consist of a ‘porthole’, in which access is through a rectangular hole in the center of a slab. The temples were probably roofed over with beams, brushwood and clay.

Underground Inside Hal Saflieni Hypogeum In Malta

Structures that resemble megalithic temples have been discovered on the sea-bed in Maltese waters. These are currently being studied to establish whether they are actually unique megalithic temples or naturally formed sculptures.  These studies are being carried out by foreign archaeologists, as this discovery has been considered to be of great archaeological importance, and has raised great interest amongst the wider scientific community.

Malta’s antediluvian under-water temple may prove to be the largest known prehistoric complex on Earth.  On the rocky hill above Mnajdra two stones which serve as demarcation stones for the Equinox and Winter Solstice delineate a prehistoric, artificial, under-water structure not far from the coast of Sliema on the Mediterranean Isle of Malta.   What makes these neolithic temples so unique is their true alignment to the major-standstills of the Moon – and not to the Sun as is characteristic with so many of these prehistoric stone calendars dotted around the world.   Only one of the Mnajdra ‘Temples’ was deliberately oriented to the Sun. Although the already documented identification of the remains of a very large prehistoric ‘Temple’ at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea 3 kilometres off Malta’s north-eastern shore, still remains to be evidently confirmed by systematic exploration of that site, not less than three other distinct submarine sites of antediluvian origin have been located by diver-photographers in circumstances that place their existence, if not their interpretation, beyond all reasonable doubt.  Excavations on Gozo, the second isle in the Maltese archipelago and at various prehistoric sites on Malta itself or below its territorial waters still have a very considerable future. Deep-sea fishermen, for example, have already seen what appears to be an ancient stone circle some distance out from St. Paul’s island at Sikka I. Bajda. Excavations first began at Hagar Qim on the Maltese mainland, the site of the oldest and also of the only “temple” so far studied to be constructed out of globigerine instead of coralline limestone.  The first “temples” to be initially excavated in a proper and scientific manner were those at

Tarxien in the early years of the 20th century.

The discovery was made on the 13th of July 1999 at 10 a.m. and was photographed by diver/cameraman  Shaun Arrigo, while the photographer who took  separate on-site still-photos was his brother Kurt.  Professor Zeitlmair, who explained that these structures are two stone-circles.  Also with them are other fallen and broken structures which are long and rectangular, and on a sort of platform. They were found at a depth of approximately  1 km off the East coast of Malta.  Prof. Zeitlmair also said that these structures are full of vegetation, and bare a striking similarity to the temples from the period of Ħaġar Qim.

In the zone where the underwater structures have been found large narrow channels have been observed believed to be some form of cart-ruts, and these resemble those found around on the island.  The discovery of these structures will give rise to diverse archaeological interpretations, and the first implications are that they could be compared with the temples of Ħaġar Qim,

Evidence of Prehistoric Rock Painting

Gantija and Mnajdra, and with the Hypogeum.  This archaeological discovery has also renewed discussions amongst archaeologists regarding the period in which the temples were built. Prof. Zeitlmair sustains that these structures were built a lot earlier than the other megalithic temples in Malta are usually alleged to have been built, and the questions that he is trying to answer are: who really built these structures, when did they actually build them, and for what purpose?

The limestones: gray coralline and, pale globigerina were used in the construction of these temples, both of these stones originated from the Miocene geological period. The construction tools available at the time were hand-axes made of flint and quartzite, knives and scrapers of volcanic obsidian, wedges of wood and stone, hammers of stone and levers of wood. No metal tools of any kind have been found at the temples. Malta has no mineral resources and the flint and obsidian found were most probably imported from the islands of Lipari and Pantelleria off the coast of Sicily. After quarrying the stone blocks were transported to the temple sites via levers and rollers. Once there the rollers were exchanged for stone balls so that the massive stone blocks could be moved in any direction, rather than the limiting forward and backward motion offered with rollers.

Plastered and painted with red ochre the earliest interiors were later embellished with delicately carved spirals on steps and altars. Friezes of farm animals, fish and snakes, and simple pitted dots could also be found. Still evident are wall sockets for wooden barriers or curtains, and niches for ritual activities. Some of the relief decoration is of such delicate work that it is difficult to understand how it could have been carried out using only stone tools.

The Hypogeum Tarxien Malta

Geologists acknowledge the coming and going of some sort of mini-ice age within this specified time-frame.

Complimenting these temples and perhaps the crown jewel of the Island itself is The Hypogeum at Paola.  The building is a subterranean structure dating to the Saflieni period in the island’s prehistory. It is the only prehistoric underground temple in the world. Thought to be originally a sanctuary, it became a necropolis in prehistoric times. The Hypogeum was acceptance by UNESCO as a World Heritage site in the 1980’s.  It was closed to visitors between 1992 and 1996 for restoration works; since it reopened only 80 people per day are allowed entry.

It was discovered by accident in 1902 when workers cutting cisterns for a new housing development broke through its roof. The workers tried to hide the temple at first, but eventually it was found. The study of the structure was first entrusted to Father Manuel Magri of the Society of Jesus, who directed the excavations on behalf of the Museum’s Committee.  Magri died in 1907, before the publication of the report.

The Temples Above the Hypogeum

The Hypogeum is a multi-storey underground labyrinth consisting of chambers, halls, corridors and stairs, which over the centuries were extended deeper and deeper in to the soft limestone.  The first Level in the Hypogeum mirrors the tombs found in Xemxija. Some rooms are natural caves which were later artificially extended. From evidence, one can say that this is the oldest level. The second level only ten metres below the street level was only opened as an extension to the first when the original builders found that was no longer spacious enough to accommodate their needs.  This level shows advanced stone masonry skills for the time. included here are rooms of great import to the original temple worshipers such as the Main Room, the Holy of Holies, and the Oracle Room.

The Main Chamber is carved out of the natural rock and circular in shape . A number of trilithon entrances are present, some blind, and others leading to other chambers. Most of the wall surface is covered in a red wash of ochre. It was from this room that the statuettes of the sleeping lady were recovered. Nowadays these figurines are held in the Museum of Archaeology, in Valletta, Malta’s capital.

The Oracle Room is roughly rectangular and one of the smallest side chambers has the peculiarity of producing a powerful acoustic resonance from any vocalization made inside it. This room has an elaborately painted ceiling, consisting of spirals in red ochre with circular blobs.  The Decorated Room Out of the Oracle’s Room, through the hammer dressed chamber, on the right is another spacious hall, circular, with inward slanting smooth walls, richly decorated in a geometrical pattern. On the right side wall of the entrance is a petrosomatoglyph of a human hand carved into the rock (Agius).  The second level contains a 2 metres deep pit which could have been used for either keeping snakes or collecting alms.  The focal point of Holy of Holies is a porthole within a trilithon, which is in turn framed within a larger trilithon and yet another large trilithon.  The lower story contains no bones or offerings, only water and strongly suggests a storage room possibly for grain.

Ghar Dalam or Cave of Darkness

Initially constructed as a goddess temple during the megalithic period, the most recent temple to be discovered and excavated is Tas Silg. It is unique in that it shows evidence of continued religious use over thousands of years and by various cultures. It was used by Bronze Age Peoples of the first millennium BC and was appropriated as a sanctuary of the Goddess Astarte patron deity of fertility, beauty and love. The temple was established by the Phoenicians in the 8th century BC, maintained and improved by the Carthaginians, used by the neo-Punic natives as a shrine of Astarte-Tanit, adopted by the Romans as a temple of the goddess Juno, taken over by the Christians in the 4th century AD, and finally became the site of an Arab mosque in the 9th century.

Similiarly several discoveries were also made at Ghar Dalam or “cave of darkness” dating back to the ice age. The remains of dwarf elephant and hippopotamus bones were discovered in these caves. Some of the earliest indicators of human settlement were also found here, dating back over 7,000 years.