Hagar Qim, Malta (3200-2500 BCE)

One of the earliest stone temples built anywhere in the world can be found today on the island of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea. Well, at least its remains remain…

Every time I see this temple, especially the aerial view, I am simply amazed at the relative complexity of architecture humans were able to achieve at such an early point in history. What’s more, the temple was constructed with megaliths! I still don’t understand how such a feat was even possible. I think that the remains themselves are already incredibly intricate that I can’t even imagine what the temple would have looked like when it was complete in its days of glory.

At first glance, it is quite obvious that this work of architecture took much planning. Maltese builders built this temple by stacking the enormous stone blocks in horizontal rows, or courses. They employed several different stone arrangements to build the temple, making it very complex. Doorways at Hagar Qim were built using the post-and-lintel design. Two upright stones, the posts, support a horizontal beam, the lintel. The Ancient architects have also incorporated apses into their temple. Apses are semicircular recesses that create more space in the building. The interplay of rectangular and circular/curved forms in design attest to the sophistication of this remarkable structure.

During excavations, archeologists found multiple altars in this building, and thus were able to determine that it was a temple, or at least some kind of religious shrine. They have also dug up a plethora of stone statues of headless nude women. Most statues were sitting, but one standing one was also unearthed.

I try to picture what the temple must have looked like when it was complete and I find it hard to believe that something with such grandeur can be dated to such ancient times and can be found on a tiny island.   

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