Ta' Ħaġrat temple

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UNESCO World Heritage Site
Megalithic Temples of Malta: Ġgantija, Ħaġar Qim, Mnajdra, Ta' Ħaġrat, Skorba, Tarxien.
Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List
Ta' Ħaġrat Temples, Mġarr, Malta
Type Cultural
Criteria iv
Reference 132
UNESCO region Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 1980 (4th Session)
Extensions 1992

The Ta' Ħaġrat temples in Mġarr, Malta is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with several other Megalithic temples.[1] They are amongst the most ancient religious sites on Earth.[2] The larger Ta' Ħaġrat temple dates from the Ġgantija phase (3600–3200 BCE);[3] the smaller is dated to the Saflieni phase (3300–3000 BCE).[3]

Location[edit]

Ta' Ħaġrat is on the eastern outskirts of the village of Mġarr, roughly one kilometer from the Ta' Skorba temples.[4] Characteristics of the Ta' Ħaġrat façade resemble those in the Ta' Skorba complex.[3]

Temple Complex[edit]

The excavation of plentiful pottery deposits show that a village stood on the site and predates the temples themselves. This early pottery is dated to the Mġarr phase (3800-3600 BCE).[5]

Ta' Ħaġrat is built out of lower coralline limestone, the oldest exposed rock in the Maltese Islands.[6] The complex contains two adjacent temples.[3] The smaller temple abuts the major one on the northern side.

The two parts are less regularly planned and smaller in size than many of the other neolithic temples in Malta.[7] Unlike other megalithic temples in Malta no decorated blocks were discovered; however a number of artifacts were found. Perhaps most intriguing is a scale model of a temple,[8] sculpted in globigerina limestone.

A sculptured temple discovered at Ta' Ħaġrat

The model is roofed and shows the typical structure of a Maltese temple including a trilithon façade, narrow-broad walling technique and upper layers of horizontal corbelling.[9]

Major Temple[edit]

The Ġgantija phase temple is typically trefoil, with a concave façade opening onto a spacious semicircular forecourt. The façade contains a monumental doorway in the center and a bench at its base.[4] Two steps lead up to the main entrance and a corridor flanked by upright megaliths of coralline limestone.[10][3]

Plan of the Ta' Ħaġrat complex. Legend: (A)Temple 3600-3300 BC, (B) Temple 3600-3300 BC, (1) Entrance 2d temple, (2) Abside of the oracle.

The corridor leads into a central torba[disambiguation needed] court, radiating three semi-circular chambers. These were partially walled off at some time in the Saflieni phase;[11] pottery shards were recovered from the internal packing of this wall.[12] The apses are constructed with roughly-hewn stone walls and have a rock floor. Corbelling visible on the walls of the apses suggest that the temple was roofed.[3]

A small sculptured temple was discovered here.[8]

Minor Temple[edit]

The Saflieni phase temple rests to the north and is six and a half meters long. It is entered through the eastern apse of the larger temple. Smaller stones have been used in its construction[7] and it exhibits irregularities in design considered archaic or provincial.[13]

Excavation[edit]

The site was excavated between 1923 and 1926 by Sir Temi Zammit, then Director of Museums. British archaeologist David Trump accurately dated the complex in the 1960s.[3]

Restoration[edit]

Parts of the façade and doorway were reconstructed in 1937.[14]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Megalithic Temples of Malta - UNESCO World Heritage Centre". Whc.unesco.org. Retrieved 2010-09-12. 
  2. ^ "Malta Temples and The OTS Foundation". Otsf.org. Retrieved 2010-09-12. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g http://www.heritagemalta.org/tahagrat.html
  4. ^ a b Trump, Cilia. Malta Prehistory and Temples. p. 154 
  5. ^ Trump, Cilia. Malta Prehistory and Temples. p. 155 
  6. ^ "Geology". Semide-mt.org. Retrieved 2010-09-12. 
  7. ^ a b Żammit, Mayrhofer. The Prehistoric Temples of Malta and Gozo. p. 142 
  8. ^ a b "Ta Hagrat - Mgarr - Temple Model". Megalithics.com. Retrieved 2010-09-12. 
  9. ^ Zammit T., "Ta Hagrat Megalithic Ruins at Mgarr, Malta" Bulletin of the Museum, Malta, I, i, 5, 1929.
  10. ^ "Maltavoyager.com - Articles". Retrieved 2008-09-19. [dead link]
  11. ^ Trump. Malta: An Archaeological Guide. p. 139 
  12. ^ Żammit, Mayrhofer. The Prehistoric Temples of Malta and Gozo. p. 143 
  13. ^ Trump. Malta: An Archaeological Guide. p. 140 
  14. ^ The Megalithic Portal and Megalith Map. "Ta' Hagrat Ancient Temple : The Megalithic Portal and Megalith Map:". Megalithic.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-09-12. 

Coordinates: 35°55′13.3″N 14°22′09.1″E / 35.920361°N 14.369194°E / 35.920361; 14.369194