My Trip to Malta
Malta is the site of the oldest megalithic structures in the world. Set in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Sicily and composed of 3 small islands, Malta is commonly called "The Rock" and is the only Arabic speaking country in the European Union. Now independent of British rule it is still the home of thousands of British tourists seeking sun, sea and beaches that are composed primarily of limestone rock cliffs.
Over 5,500 years ago humans settled in Malta, coming by boat from Sicily, and built a series of megalithic spaces (with only stone tools) above and below ground that have to date defied interpretation. Mysteriously called temples by some, community spaces by others, they are intricately designed spaces with many features that can only lend themselves to a myriad of possible solutions. Gigantic and miniature statues that have been found along with remnants of surrounding huts, various forms of pottery, carved spirals and fish, and burials spanned a period of about 1,500 years (from 3500 to 2000BC).
These stone age settlements of early farmers and fisherman who traded by boat with Italy, were followed by Phoenician and Roman settlements, and later medieval forts built by the Knights of St. John (Italian, British, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese 'second sons') who were 'given' the islands during the Crusades.
Later colonized by Britain it was the site of a major WWII hospital. Recently Malta has been granted independence and is now a member of the EU. Maltese is about 60% Arabic (archaic) and 25% Italian with another 15% mixed English and French. They had no written language until fairly recently when they adopted Arabic letters instead of Arabic calligraphic writing.
I visited Malta for 2 weeks in June of 2005 for a PHD Summer School, Educational Technology in a Cultural Context hosted by the University of Malta followed by the IADIS e-Society conference in which I presented a full paper. The Summer School included many field trips and I supplemented by study of the pre-historic culture with some additional trips.
We visited the M'nadjra and Hagar Qim Temples (although whether they were temples or not is unknown) at the sunrise of June 21, the Summer Solstice when the portal allows the sun to enter into the inner spaces, the Malta Center for Restoration (which has recently merged with Heritage Malta) and saw some of their amazing painting restoration and digital documentation of Malta - located in the old British WWII hospital.
Scenes from the capital city, Valetta.
To the Solstice Sunrise at M'nadjra