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The Megalithic Monuments of Malta

    Naturevolume 109page27 (1922) | Download Citation



    AT a meeting of the Royal Anthropological Institute held on November 15 last Miss M. A. Murray gave an account of her recent excavations in Malta. The excavations were carried out with the consent and kind help of Prof. Zammit. Three sites were explored, all three being in the south-east of the island. The first excavation was of a mound called Santa Sfia, near the village of Hal Far; this proved to be a megalithic site re-used later, and yielded no result. The second excavation was at Santa Maria tal Bakkari, about half a mile away. Here the remains of a double edifice, locally supposed to be two churches, were found. But various indications, amongst others a torba floor, suggest that the building was pre-Christian, and the form and position of many of the stones show that it was originally a megalithic structure. The supposed dedication of the double building to Santa Maria and Santa Katerina may indicate that the shrine was dedicated to two goddesses, and may therefore throw some light on the early deities of Malta. The name of St. Mary is too universal to be any guide, but as St. Katherine has taken the place of a goddess of beacons and lighthouses, we may have here a sanctuary of that divinity. The position of the shrine lends itself to this conjecture, as it stands on high ground in a direct line with a tiny creek, now unused, but sufficiently large for the small fishing-boats of Neolithic times. The name Tal Bakkari is probably connected with the Arabic Fagr, “dawn, daybreak” the name “St. Mary (or the goddess) of the daybreak” would be appropriate for a shrine built on a hill, from which the open sea due eastward across the Bay of Marsa Scirocco is clearly visible. The first rays of the rising sun strike directly on the shrine.

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