"Find the fat lady........................" Tarxien Prehistoric Temples by leics

Vastly important, the complex of four megalithic temples at Tarxien ('Tarshen') dates from 3600 to 2500 BCE. It's not easy to find though. Getting the bus from Valletta was simple (we took number 8, but there are several others) and the driver was happy to tell us when to get off (we were very impressed by the way he handled his dying gearbox, double de-clutching all the way). Then, deposited in the middle of the deserted village (Malta stops between 1 and 4), it was a bit of an adventure to find our way. Few signs, and not placed in a logical sequence. And no-one around who seemed to know of the existence of this World Heritage site...........

But we got there in the end, thanks to a helpful lady and a helpful man, and found the temples in the middle of a housing estate, surrounded by cranes and construction work.

These temples are particularly important because of the large amount of decoration which has survived (although much is now in Valetta museum). There are four, oriented slightly differently, the largest being unique in having six side-chapels or apses.

I was fascinated by the statue of the large lady, reminiscent of Neolithic sculptures of equally well-endowed ladies from elsewhere in Europe. I suppose it makes sense; a well-endowed lady represents fertility, and wealth, and comfort...........just what an earth or mother goddess should do.

And the spiral decoration on some of the stones clearly shows the roots of what we call 'Celtic' art, the decoration which appears on weapons and jewellery in the Bronze and Iron ages. There are stones with such spirals carved on them still lying on the hills of Northumberland. Spirals fascinate; think of the labyrinth at Knossos. they wind and weave and interlink and seem, sometimes, to have no beginning and no ending.

The site was first discovered in 1913, and then excavated between 1915 and 1919. It is not particularly well-presented (and I have a rough idea what I am looking at) and there are concerns that exposure to the atmosphere may cause it to deteriorate. There are plans are to properly preserve it (environmental monitoring equipment is in place) and to build a visitors' centre.

It is sad that such an important site should be crammed into such a small area within a residential setting, but at least its future now seems assured.
More photos in the travelogue.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Unique
  • Cons:Not easy to find
  • In a nutshell:Unmissable and unique prehistoric site
  • Last visit to Tarxien Prehistoric Temples: Dec 2006
  • Intro Updated Feb 26, 2011
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Comments (7)

  • HORSCHECK's Profile Photo
    Nov 14, 2010 at 9:23 AM

    Hmm, I must admit that I prefer the real ladies with slim legs. *winkygrin*

  • yumyum's Profile Photo
    Nov 13, 2010 at 10:37 AM

    I definitely like the ladies' legs on the intro photo!

  • Turska's Profile Photo
    Sep 30, 2010 at 4:39 AM

    And I want to see this also :D How can we see all in 6 days ;) Thank God it´s a small island!

  • Basaic's Profile Photo
    May 23, 2009 at 11:51 AM

    Wow! Interesting place. Malta is high on my wish list.

  • Irina_Blyumina's Profile Photo
    Sep 19, 2007 at 8:40 AM

    Hi! I visited Tarxien and arheological museum. Prehistorical Lady's legs are fanny. I look at the picture every time I want some sweets... Thanks for your reply. Irina

  • unravelau's Profile Photo
    Jun 23, 2007 at 1:35 PM

    Any chance that the huge pot could have been for wine stomping?

  • Feb 9, 2007 at 11:51 PM

    Absolutely fascinating!! Your photos have heightened my curiosity about this place! What a find!


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