Because of the similarities
in the designs on pottery ware, archaeologists believe that the
first inhabitants of the islands must have come from Sicily. The
prehistory of the Maltese islands started round about 4000 BC, but
it is from the period classified as the Copper Age that we have
the richest and most spectacular heritage of the local prehistoric
During that phase we witness the development of the Temple Culture,
a name which was coined as a result of the substantial number of
impressive megalithic temples erected in honour of a deity referred
to as the Fat Lady.
Statuettes of this fertility goddess, in whose forms the temples
were probably constructed, were also found throughout countries
in the Mediterranean region.
The marvellous artistry and stone-masonry with which these temples
were built bear witness to the devotion which the early Maltese
had to their protective Goddess.
The huge upright rocks (weighing tons!) which constitute the Ggantija
temples in Gozo together with the minute carving on the decorative
slabs at Tarxien and Hagar Qim reflect the dedication with which
these prehistoric ancestors adorned their places of worship.
Yet the Hypogeum in Paola remains the most astonishing site of the
Discovered by accident in 1902, the excavation works were carried out
by Malta’s leading archaeologist, Sir Themistocles Zammit. Using only
flint and rock tools (some of which were unearthed during the excavations)
the Neolitihic people dug an underground temple in live rock, a construction
which was later used as a burial place.
Perhaps the so-called “cart-ruts” are the strangest legacy from those
misty, prehistoric times. Dispersed in various places in Malta and Gozo,
these mysterious lines or designs have puzzled archaeologists and scientists
alike. People have offered all sorts of explanations ranging from tracks
formed by primitive forms of animal-driven machinery to signs from extra-terrestrial