lunes, 9 de abril de 2012

Templos de Tarxien (Malta)

The Tarxien Temples were constructed at the height of the Temple Period, witnessing the culmination of prehistoric art, architecture and ritual practices in Late Neolithic Malta.
The first megalithic structures was built at around 3600 B.C. The remains of this building can still be seen today at the eastern extent of the site It originally consisted of five semicircular rooms, know as apses, and had a concave facade.
The East Temple was first to be built in the Tarxien Phase (ca. 3000-2500 BC), followed by the South and Central Temples. This is when the prehistoric culture reached its zenith and existing buildings were redsigned, extended and embellished with remarkable works of art.
The South Temple contained the largest concentration of megalithic art, namely stone blocks carved in relief, depicting various spiral designs and animal representations. The animals depicting include goats, bulls, pigs and a ram. These animals were killed as sacificial offerings. This possibility is supported by the discovery of a number of flint blades and animal bones found within a hollow inside an elaboratly decorated altar.
The Central Temple was probably the last to be constructed and has the most complex plan, being divided into six apses. The passage between the first and second pairs of apses is blocked by a slab with a double-spiral design. This suggest that the building may have had limited acess, being reserved for a special group of people, an elite or the initiated.
Although we know little of the activities that took place within these buildings, they were clearly an important communal centre. The activities or rituals that took place here may have been of a religious, political and economic nature,however, following the sudden end of the temple culture, the site was put to a very different use. During the early Bronze Age (after 2500 BC) the chambers of the Tarxien Temples were used for funerary purposes, being turned into a cremation cementery.
In 1913 local farmers informed Sir Temi Zammit, who was then completing excavations at the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, that whenever they ploughed a field in the same district, they struck large blocks of stone. Zammit excavated the site between 1915 and 1919. Excavations started by exposing the South Temple of the Tarxien complex, excavating the cementery inserted into the ruins in the Early Bronze Age, then continuing succesively with the Central, East and Early Temples.
Further limited excavations were also conduced in various parts of the temple complex between 1921 and 1958. In 1997 the Museum Departaments conducted excavations in the areas just to the north and west of the temples. These excavations brougth to light further megalithic elements indicating that the prehistoric complex extended further than the current visible remains.

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