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  • Callanish Megalithic Monument - Megalith...
    by edwinswagger on June 17, 2016 at 5:56 AM
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    58° 11′ 52.44″ N, 6° 44′ 39.48″ W


    The Callanish Stones (or "Callanish I", Clachan Chalanais or Tursachan Chalanais in Scottish Gaelic) are an arrangement of standing stones placed in a cruciform pattern with a central stone circle. They were erected in the late Neolithic era, and were a focus for ritual activity during the Bronze Age. They are near the village of Callanish (Gaelic: Calanais) on the west coast of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. The Callanish Stones (grid reference NB213330) are situated on a low ridge above the waters of Loch Roag with the hills of Great Bernera as a backdrop. Numerous other ritual sites lie within a few kilometres. These include at least three other circles, several arcs, alignments and single stones; many visible from the main site. The most impressive ? Callanish II and Callanish III ? lie just over a kilometre southeast of the main Callanish Stones, and originally consisted of circles of stones at least eight in number. The existence of other monuments in the area implies that Callanish was an active focus for prehistoric religious activity for at least 1500 years. The Callanish Stones consist of a stone circle of thirteen stones with a monolith near the middle. Five rows of standing stones connect to this circle. Two long rows of stones running almost parallel to each other from the stone circle to the north-northeast form a kind of avenue. In addition, there are shorter rows of stones to the west-southwest, south and east-northeast. The stones are all of the same rock type, namely the local Lewisian gneiss. Within the stone circle is a chambered tomb to the east of the central stone. The central monolith stands 0.8 metres west of the true centre of the stone circle. The stone is 4.8 metres high, 1.5 metres wide and 0.3 metres thick.The largest sides of the stone are almost perfectly oriented to the north and south. The monolith has the shape of a ship's rudder and probably weighs about seven tonnes. Stone circle The stone circle consists of thirteen stones and has a diameter of 11.4 metres. The stone circle is not a perfect circle, but is a ring with a flattened east side (13.4 metres north-south by 12 metres east-west). The stones have an average height of three metres. The ring covers an area of 124 square metres. This is quite small compared to similar circles, including the nearby Callanish II which is 2.5 times as large. The avenue connects to the stone circle from the north-northeast. The avenue is 83.2 metres long. The avenue has 19 stones remaining: nine stones are on the eastern side, ten on the western side. The largest stone is 3.5 metres high and stands on the western end of the row. The two rows are not exactly parallel to each other but fan out: at the north end the rows are 6.7 metres apart, while the distance between the rows is 6 metres at the south end. From the circle the height of the stones decreases towards the middle of the avenue; from there the height increases again. The stones of the eastern side of the avenue have only three-quarters of the height of the stones on the western side. As well as the two stone rows of the avenue, there are three stone rows connecting to the circle. One comes from the east-northeast, one from the south, and one from the west-southwest. The east-northeast row today consists of five stones and is 23.2 metres long. The southern row consists of five stones and is 27.2 metres long. The west-southwest row consists of four stones and is 13 metres long. As well as the two stone rows of the avenue, there are three stone rows connecting to the circle. One comes from the east-northeast, one from the south, and one from the west-southwest. The east-northeast row today consists of five stones and is 23.2 metres long. The southern row consists of five stones and is 27.2 metres long. The west-southwest row consists of four stones and is 13 metres long. None of the stone rows is aimed at the centre of the stone circle. The east-northeast row is aligned to a point 2 metres south of the centre; the south row points to 1 metre west of the centre and the west-southwest row points to 1 metre south of the centre. Chambered tomb Between the central and the eastern monolith of the stone circle is a chambered tomb 6.4 metres long. This was built later than the stone circle and is squashed in between the eastern stones and the central monolith. There is another stone cairn just on the northeast side of the stone circle. It has been reduced to ground-level and the outline can barely be traced. It is not necessarily an original part of the site. The Sleeping Beauty, also known as the 'Cailleach Na Mointeach' or 'Old woman of the moors' is a spectacular skyline of a woman's prone form seen to the north east from the standing stones of Callanish. Moonrise at the time of the 18.6 year Lunar standstill aligns significantly with this landscape. Archaeology and dating A distant view of the circle, stone rows and part of the northern avenue There were limited excavations in 1980-1 which provided some information on the development of the site. The first traces of human activity are indicated by a broad ditch (no longer visible above ground) which appears to have belonged to some structure or enclosure. This may have been ritual, but could instead have been domestic. In the centuries around 3000 BC, however, the site was turned over to agriculture which obliterated most of the earlier traces. After this, the site was allowed to grass over for a time. The stone circle was set up between 2900 and 2600 BC. It is not clear whether the stone alignments were constructed at the same time as the circle, or later. Some time after the erection of the stones, a small chambered tomb was inserted into the eastern part of the stone circle. The many pottery fragments found indicate that the tomb was used for several centuries. These pottery fragments included not only the local Hebridean pots, but numerous sherds of beaker vessels (dating to around 2000-1700 BC) and sherds of grooved ware. Around 1500-1000 BC the complex fell out of use and was despoiled by the later Bronze Age farmers. Fragments of pots appear to have been cast out of the chamber. This may have been just ordinary agriculture, but it may conceivably have been ritual cleansing. There appears to have been a later rebuilding of the tomb, but this may have been for domestic use as there is no evidence for any later ritual use of the monument. Between 1000 BC and 500 BC the stones were covered by a thick layer of turf. It is estimated that the place was abandoned around 800 BC. Only in 1857 was the overlying 1.5 metres of peat removed. Later history The first written reference to the stones was by Lewis native John Morisone, who around 1680 wrote that the stones were men "converted into stone by ane Inchanter" and set up in a ring "for devotione". Sometime around 1695 Martin Martin visited the site and was told by the local people that "it was a place appointed for worship in the time of heathenism, and that the chief druid or priest stood near the big stone in the centre, from whence he addressed himself to the people that surrounded him." In his 1726 work on the druids, John Toland specifically identified Diodorus Siculus' Hyperborea with Lewis, and the "spherical temple" mentioned by Diodorus with the Callanish Stones. In 1743, William Stukeley described the stone circle as a druid circle and the avenue like a serpent. In 1819, geologist John MacCulloch published the first accurate description. In 1846, the Danish historian J. J. A. Worsaae made a sketch and plan of the Callanish Stones. In 1857 peat to a depth of five feet (1.5 metres) was cleared away, under the orders of the proprietor of Lewis, James Matheson, revealing the chambered tomb and the true height of the stones. In 1885 the Callanish Stones were taken into state care.

  • 008 Tarxien Megalithic Temple - Malta
    by edwinswagger on March 6, 2016 at 8:56 AM
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    The Tarxien Temples are an archaeological complex Malta. They date to approximately 3150 BC.The site was accepted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980 along with the other Megalithic temples on the island of Malta. The Tarxien Temples consist of three separate, but attached, temple structures. The main entrance is a reconstruction dating from 1956, when the whole site was restored. At the same time, many of the decorated slabs discovered on site were relocated indoors for protection at the Museum of Archaeology in Valletta. The first temple has been dated to approximately 3100 BC and is the most elaborately decorated of the temples of Malta. The middle temple dates to about 3000 BC, and is unique in that, unlike the rest of the Maltese temples, it has three pairs of apses instead of the usual two. The east temple is dated at around 3100 BC. The remains of another temple, smaller, and older, having been dated to 3250 BC, are visible further towards the east. Of particular interest at the temple site is the rich and intricate stonework, which includes depictions of domestic animals carved in relief, altars, and screens decorated with spiral designs and other patterns. Demonstrative of the skill of the builders is a chamber set into the thickness of the wall between the South and Central temples and containing a relief showing a bull and a sow. Excavation of the site reveals that it was used extensively for rituals, which probably involved animal sacrifice. Especially interesting is that Tarxien provides rare insight into how the megaliths were constructed: stone rollers were left outside the South temple. Additionally, evidence of cremation has been found at the center of the South temple, which is an indicator that the site was reused as a Bronze Age cremation cemetery. Discovery and history A relief showing goats and rams in one of the temples at Tarxien. The large stone blocks were discovered in 1914 by local farmers ploughing a field. After the accidental discovery of the nearby Tarxien hypogeum in 1913, the proprietor of the land underneath which the temples were buried figured that the large stones that were continually struck by workers' ploughs may also have had some archaeological value. On that notion, he contacted the director of the National Museum, Sir Themistocles Zammit, who began to dig even on his first inspection of the site, where he discovered the center of the temple compound. It was not long before Zammit found himself standing in what appeared to be an apse formed by a semicircle of enormous hewn stones. Over the course of three years, Zammit enlisted the help of local farmers and townspeople for an excavation project of unprecedented scale in Malta. By 1920, Zammit had identified and carried out restoration work on five separate but interconnected temples, all yielding a remarkable collection of artifacts, including the famous "fat lady" statue (a representation of a Mother Goddess or a fertility charm), and several unique examples of prehistoric relief, including ships. Further excavations at the temples were conducted in the post-World War II period under the directorship of Dr. J.G. Baldacchino. The discovery of the complex did much to further Malta's national identity, solidly confirming the existence of a thriving ancient culture on the island. Also, the general interest aroused by the finds engendered for the first time a public concern for the protection of Malta's historical treasures, including a need for management of the sites, the promulgation of laws, and other measures to protect and preserve monuments. At the same time, Sir Themistocles' thorough method in excavating the site paved the way for a new scientific approach to archaeology.

  • 007 Mnajdra Temple Summer Solstice - Mal...
    by edwinswagger on February 27, 2016 at 6:57 AM
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    Mnajdra Temple 35.826667, 14.436389

    Mnajdra is made of coralline limestone, which is much harder than the soft globigerina limestone of & Hagar Qim. The main structural systems used in the temples are corbelling with smaller stones, and post-and-lintel construction using large slabs of limestone. The cloverleaf plan of Mnajdra appears more regular than that of & Hagar Qim, and seems reminiscent of the earlier complex at Ggantija. The prehistoric structure consists of three conjoined but not connected temples: the upper, middle and lower. The upper temple is the oldest structure in the Mnajdra complex and dates to the Ggantija phase (3600-3200 BC).It is a three-apsed building, the doorway of which is formed by a hole cut into a large piece of limestone set upright, a type of construction typical of other megalithic doorways in Malta. This temple appears originally to have had a vaulted ceiling, but only the base of the ceiling now remain on top of the walls. The pillar-stones were decorated with pitmarks drilled in horizontal rows on the inner surface. The middle temple was built in the late Tarxien phase (3150 ? 2500 BC) and, in fact, is the most recent structure. It is formed of slabs topped by horizontal courses. The lowest temple, built in the early Tarxien phase, is the most impressive and possibly the best example of Maltese megalithic architecture. It has a large forecourt containing stone benches, an entrance passage covered by horizontal slabs, one of which has survived, and the remains of a possibly domed roof. The temple is decorated with spiral carvings and indentations, and pierced by windows, some into smaller rooms and one onto an arrangement of stones

  • 006 Skorba Temple - Malta Island
    by edwinswagger on February 10, 2016 at 11:45 AM
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    Skorba Temple 35.920789, 14.377661

    The Skorba temples are megalithic remains on the northern edge of Żebbiegħ, in Malta, which have provided detailed and informative insight into the earliest periods of Malta's neolithic culture.The site was only excavated in the early 1960s, rather late in comparison to other megalithic sites, some of which had been studied since the early 19th century. The site's importance has led to its listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a listing it shares with six other megalithic temples in Malta. This later excavation allowed the use of modern methods of dating and analysis. The temple itself is not in good condition, especially in comparison to the more complete temples of Ħaġar Qim and Tarxien. However, the importance of this site does not lie in the actual remains but rather in what was garnered from their excavation.

  • 005 Mnajdra Temple - Malta Island
    by edwinswagger on February 10, 2016 at 11:41 AM
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    Mnajdra Temple 35.826667, 14.436389

    Mnajdra is made of coralline limestone, which is much harder than the soft globigerina limestone of Ħaġar Qim. The main structural systems used in the temples are corbelling with smaller stones, and post-and-lintel construction using large slabs of limestone. The cloverleaf plan of Mnajdra appears more regular than that of Ħagar Qim, and seems reminiscent of the earlier complex at Ggantija. The prehistoric structure consists of three conjoined but not connected temples: the upper, middle and lower. The upper temple is the oldest structure in the Mnajdra complex and dates to the Ggantija phase (3600-3200 BC).It is a three-apsed building, the doorway of which is formed by a hole cut into a large piece of limestone set upright, a type of construction typical of other megalithic doorways in Malta. This temple appears originally to have had a vaulted ceiling, but only the base of the ceiling now remain on top of the walls. The pillar-stones were decorated with pitmarks drilled in horizontal rows on the inner surface. The middle temple was built in the late Tarxien phase (3150 ? 2500 BC)  and, in fact, is the most recent structure. It is formed of slabs topped by horizontal courses. The lowest temple, built in the early Tarxien phase, is the most impressive and possibly the best example of Maltese megalithic architecture. It has a large forecourt containing stone benches, an entrance passage covered by horizontal slabs, one of which has survived, and the remains of a possibly domed roof. The temple is decorated with spiral carvings and indentations, and pierced by windows, some into smaller rooms and one onto an arrangement of stones

  • 004 Hagar Qim - Malta Island
    by edwinswagger on February 10, 2016 at 11:38 AM
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    Hagar Qim Temple 35.827778, 14.442222

    The megalithic complex of Ħaġar Qim is located on the southern edge of the island of Malta, on a ridge capped in soft globigerina limestone. All exposed rock on the island was deposited during the Oligocene and Miocene periods of geological time. Globigerina limestone is the second oldest rock on Malta, outcropping over approximately 70% of the area of the islands.The builders used this stone throughout the temple architecture. The temple?s façade is characterized by a trilithon entrance, outer bench and orthostats. It has a wide forecourt with a retaining wall and a passage runs through the middle of the building, following a modified Maltese megalithic design. A separate entrance gives access to four independent enclosures which replace the north-westerly apse. Features of temple architecture reveal a preoccupation with providing accommodation for animal sacrifices, burnt offerings and ritual oracles. Recesses were used as depositories for sacrificial remains. Excavation has uncovered numerous statuettes of deities and highly decorated pottery. A 1776 engraving of Ħaġar Qim by Jean-Pierre Houël No burials exist in the temple or the area surrounding Ħaġar Qim, nor have any human bones been discovered in Maltese temples. Bones of numerous sacrificial animals have been found. It is theorized that the Ħaġar Qim complex was built in three stages, beginning with the 'Old Temple' northern apses, followed by the 'New Temple', and finally the completion of the entire structure. A few hundred metres from the temple is one of the thirteen watchtowers built by Grand Master Martin de Redin, called Ħamrija Tower. A memorial to General Sir Walter Norris Congreve, Governor of Malta from 1924 - 1927, is located nearby. The village of Qrendi is a further two kilometres (1.2 miles) southwest of the temple complex.

  • 003 Ta Hagrat Temple - Malta Island
    by edwinswagger on February 10, 2016 at 11:32 AM
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    Ta Hagrat Temple 35.9185 N, 14.3686 E

    The Ta' Hagrat  temples in Mgarr, Malta is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with several other Megalithic temples. They are amongst the most ancient religious sites on Earth.The larger Ta' Ħaġrat temple dates from the Ggantija phase (3600-3200 BCE); the smaller is dated to the Saflieni phase (3300-3000 BCE). Ta' Hagrat is on the eastern outskirts of the village of Mġarr, roughly one kilometer from the Ta' Skorba temples.Characteristics of the Ta' Ħaġrat façade resemble those in the Ta' Skorba complex 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). Ta' Hagrat is built out of lower coralline limestone, the oldest exposed rock in the Maltese Islands.The complex contains two adjacent temples. 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. 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, sculpted in globigerina limestone. A sculptured temple discovered at Ta' Hagrat 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

  • 002 Bugibbab Temple - Malta Island
    by edwinswagger on February 10, 2016 at 11:29 AM
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    Bugibba Temple

    35.954722 N, 14.418111 E

     

    Buġibba Temple is a megalithic temple in Buġibba, limits of St. Paul's Bay, Malta. It is located in the grounds of the Dolmen Resort Hotel.

     

    The temple is located a short distance from the coast, between Buġibba and Qawra Point. It was built during the Tarxien phase of Maltese prehistory. The temple is quite small, and part of its coralline limestone façade can still be seen. From the trilithon entrance, a corridor leads to a central area which contains three apses. Part of the temple's floor has also survived at the back of the site.

    The rest of the structure was destroyed over the years, as the area was leveled due to being used for agricultural purposes.

    Buġibba Temple was discovered by the Maltese archaeologist Themistocles Zammit in the 1920s, when he discovered large stones in a field close to Qawra Point. The temple was excavated in 1928 by Zammit and L. J. Upton Way, and was again surveyed in 1952. Two years later, in 1954, some minor excavations were made to ascertain the chronology of the temple.

    During the excavations, two decorated stone blocks were found. One is a carved square block that was an altar, and the other is a rectangular block with carved fish on two of its faces. These blocks are now in the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta.

    The temple's capstone was also replaced in modern times.

    Eventually, the Dolmen Resort Hotel was built around the temple, which was incorporated into the grounds of the hotel close to its swimming pools.


  • 001 Ggantija Megalithic Temple - Gozo is...
    by edwinswagger on February 10, 2016 at 11:25 AM
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    Ggantija Temple 36.047222 N, 14.269167 E


    The Megalithic temples on the islands of Malta and Gozo are 'the 2nd oldest free-standing monuments in the world'. Gobekli Tepe has relegated Ggantija to 2nd place, They are, moreover, remarkable for their diversity of form and decoration. Being among the remarkable megalithic temples of the Maltese archipelago, the prehistoric ensemble of Ġgantija on the island of Gozo may be favourably compared with the three great temples of the island of Malta: Mnajdra, Ħagar Qim and Tarxien. Within a completely preserved enclosure wall, Ġgantija consists of two temples of multi-foil plan. The southern temple, with its two elliptical cells, is the oldest; the northern temple, which is small in size, is more recent, although no later than 2200 BC. The ensemble of Ġgantija which serves as a point of archaeological reference - the 'Ġgantija Phase' (c. 3000-2200 BC) is one of the most important periods of the Maltese Bronze Age. The complex structure of the cultural group of Ġgantija, the excellent state of preservation of its materials - hard chalky coralline and the softer globigerina limestone - make it an excellent testament of megalithic prehistoric art. Ħagar Qim and Mnajdra, although in the same tradition as the Ġgantija temples, are in no way duplicates of them. Each of these complexes is the result of a separate individual development, differing greatly in plan and articulation, as well as in constructional techniques, from Ġgantija and from each other. Both illustrate full mastery of the use of globigerina limestone for orthostats and for the regular courses of corbelling above in the interiors, in contrast to the rough boulders used in Ġgantija South. Each complex has to be ranked as a unique architectural masterpiece which would be immensely impressive at any date, given the very limited resources of the builders, but is quite staggering when taken with the extraordinarily early dates now attributed to them.


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