It is very difficult to say exactly when the first of the world's civilizations arose. Scientists disagree, and the conditions under which archaeologists work are very complex. Firstly, the time factor plays a role, and secondly, there are no written sources. But worst of all, the island is so small that access to the most interesting artifacts is impossible. The historical layer is hidden by the modern metropolis. And yet we know something for sure.
Already in the sixth millennium BC there was an ancient prosperous state. But a truly amazing state. Almost all of its territory was a huge temple complex. We know for a fact that at least 10 out of 34 square kilometers was on it. Ancient temples have survived till our days, the most famous of them is Ghar Dalam. But, surprise, this temple is in caves. It is essentially a labyrinth, with animal burial chambers and ritual halls inside. Only a small and later part of the temple is on the surface, the underground is only being studied by archaeologists.
The hegemony of the above-ground temples would not last long and again the Maltese began to build them underground. For example, one of the later temples of Hal Saflieni, which became the successor of Ghar Dalam. This is emphasized by the fact that many utensils from the ancient temple were transferred here and used in the rites. But Hal Saflieni is an even more amazing place. The mysteries here are invisible. The most famous of them is the Hall of the Oracle. Its secret is still unresolved. If you say a word in it, it will echo through all 34 rooms. But that only happens if you're a man. Women's voices don't sound here. Another mystery is that it was simply impossible to die of thirst here, even during the periods when the heat came to Malta. There are niches in the cave that accumulate fresh water. And, again, it is a mystery that the niches only accumulate a certain amount of water. That is, even if we were to say that it somehow seeps in from the outside, the process would hardly be regulated, and the cave would simply flood over time. Besides, the ancient and new underground temples were connected by a channel of passages.
But let us return to the history of ancient Malta. The next stage of its development was the construction of megaliths. Thousands of years before Stonehenge, on the small island a mighty megalithic culture was born. And, of course, scientists still do not understand how they were erected. Friends, we are talking about a time before the creation of the wheel! The only more or less viable theory speaks of the use of rollers for transportation, but no archaeological evidence simply does not exist. The entire island is streaked with strips resembling wheel tracks. But, again, wheels did not exist at that time. Scientists have conducted many experiments trying to adapt the stripes left in the stones for the movement of drags, but so far the mystery of the stone ruts has not been solved. All megalithic temples were built according to the five-leaf clover principle. The next time we will talk about such a form is not until the High Gothic period, seventeen thousand years later. The temples were inscribed in temple complexes, which often had a circular form and were arranged on the principle of labyrinths. The most ancient of the megalithic temples of Jgantija has survived to this day.
Let's imagine it in the days of prosperity. You go up the mountain where the temple complexes were traditionally built. You see it from afar - it is huge and painted a bright scarlet color. To get inside, you have to pass the entrance gate-fence, which goes up five meters. Each of its stones weighs more than 20 tons. After passing the fence, you find yourself on the territory of the temple complex. It is buried in flowers and plants. At the entrance to each temple is a sink for ablution. The temple is arranged in a fan. Each of the five leaves of the "clover" is a separate hall. In the round apses there is an altar where you can offer sacrifices to the gods - fruits, vegetables, animals. Later temples were also necropolises - the dead were buried under them, so it is believed that temples existed not only as places of service to the goddess, but also as a place where people prayed for the dead, made offerings for the rest of their souls, and each hall was reserved for certain groups of people, depending on gender, age, perhaps, social status.
The art of sculpture flourished in Malta. Archaeologists find here in great numbers the ancient Venus characteristic of the Paleolithic world. But there are other works here, far more skillful. Of course, all of them had a religious character and were dedicated to the goddess. Of the large temple sculptures only one has survived. The most famous work of ancient Malthusian art is a small (12 cm) statuette of a sleeping woman. Note the abundance of detail, the elegance of the lines and shapes. And it was created two millennia before the first, still step pyramid of Josser in the Valley of the Falcons!
Let's talk now about the religion of ancient Malta. At the head of the pantheon of gods was the Primate. Her cult sometimes became monotheistic, and the society itself was a matriarchy. Thus one of the later temples was a necropolis for seven thousand dead women. No male remains were found. The Foremother represented the original, prosperity, so her service was directly linked to the cult of abundance, namely the cult of food. They ate a lot, ate greedily, brought food to temples, piled it on the altars. The main occupation of the islanders was farming.
In essence, ancient Malta was a closed world. It had practically no trade and existed within its coastal borders. This is because, firstly, Ancient Malta was the only civilization in the world, it had no one to speak to as equals. Trade would emerge much later, would be a fickle phenomenon and would blossom on the ruins of the fallen kingdom. Second, she existed on conditions of complete self-sufficiency. Its world was divided into two parts, religious and agricultural, which were inextricably linked. As in the Buddhist teachings, the process of plowing, cultivating and harvesting the land was in itself already part of the service of the Mother, part of the Way. Agricultural areas, like temples, were built on high ground, closer to the sky. Ancient Malta can be compared to the Vatican. A church-country, a civilization-a temple.
But it was in its Way that Malta found perdition. It all started with the fact that, in a bid to please the Mother even more and to feed all the growing population, the ancient Maltese began to increase the area under crops. To do this, they started destroying the forest en masse. This affected the climate, which became hotter. Nothing else prevented the land, which was already drying out, from drying out. Soil erosion began. Wishing to placate the Mother, the ancient Maltese cut down more forests to grow more offerings to the goddess.
Their prayers were answered! The rains began to fall. At first it gave a boost to the crops, but then it turned into a real tragedy. The fertile soil was washed down from the upper fields, scattered over hills and uplands, and the rains were replaced by a killer heat.
The remains of the ancient people, more than anything else, tell us the full horror of the tragedy that unfolded here for two generations. The once prosperous region, the cradle of religion and the arts, in which man was supposed to eat, pray and thrive, had become a living hell. The builders of the pyramids never even dreamed of the nightmare that had become people's everyday life. Day after day, over and over again, the ancient Maltese had to pick up the washed earth at the bottom of the cliffs and bring it back up again. And so it went on day after day. The result was a windmill effect.
The depletion of the land became even greater. People were dying of hard work, the bone remains tell us that their hands were so disfigured that the bones rubbed against each other, causing unbearable pain. Women, children, the elderly, all fought desperately to keep their peace. They starved, they died of exhaustion, but they brought offerings to the Mother, begging for her mercy. Civilization was dying of starvation. The infant mortality rate reached 50%. Emaciated, starving, skeleton-like, they continued to lift the earth up again and again. There was no way to produce crops below, the ground was soaking wet.
In a desperate attempt to somehow feed the country, the ancient Maltese made the fatal mistake of abandoning grain production. Nothing now held the fertile layers of soil together. They were washed down, and their remnants were destroyed by erosion that began during the hot summer season. The last crop of Ancient Malta perished. In desperation, the people rushed to the temples where there was a supply of food. They took the boarded-up entrances in fits and starts, burst inside, and killed the priests. It was a terrible sight. Not only was a civilization that had existed for many thousands of years dead. Almost the entire population of the country had perished.