Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Those Beginnings

Today I visited the oldest structures made by man that still exist in Europe, the Temples of Tarxien and Hagar Qim on Malta. These are still somewhat crude, and deteriorated, constructions, but the feeling of standing where men began to build, to make something of their own conception, is quite heartening.

To quarry the limestone here on the island of Malta isn't as difficult as some places, it's a soft limestone that carves easily. The color is lemony, and many of the blocks that otherwise would just have been stone are pitted with regular, round holes all over the surface like measles. Or, more like, bubbles. The places seem to have been places of worship, and a few predictably pregnant carvings of women are placed where they seem to have been the objects of the worship. Large, skirted remains are still left at Tarzien, though the actual statues have been replaced with replicas so the originals can be preserved.

We were on the sea coast at Hagar Qim, with a glorious view that must have inspired many yearnings for the original Maltese, and there is an alignment with the sun at Spring and Fall solstices. From the inside of the temple, the sun will come up over the land just inside the door from the altar. Our guide has been there for the event, and says she was disappointed not to be there alone, but have hundreds of other aspiring sun advocates around her.

Our guide also maintained that the temples on Malta are the earliest structures in the world, but I'd be surprised if there aren't structures out in the wilds of China, maybe even in S. America, with histories as old. These are dated back 5,000 years - although of course the world isn't that old according to some of our degenerated religious sects.

There is no written record to tell us about the temples on Malta, so everything we know is learned from the structures, and the carvings, themselves. They advance from the early, crude, first temple to groupings of three, each progressively more skilled in its form. Our ancestors improving on themselves seems endearing to me.

As we sailed back out of the harbor, I was enthralled to see that solar panels were powering the lighthouse at the outer realm of the bay where we'd been harboring. That solar observation we began with is proving to have a lot to offer, indeed. Improving on our ancesters as always.

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Anonymous Marcellina said...

One assumes that there were probably structures built earlier, even on Malta itself. The ones we know of are the ones that have survived over time — their "masterpieces". There must have been centuries, if not millenia, of "practice" til they got to that point.

1:46 AM  
Blogger Ruth said...

Good point. Even in Jolly Olde, there are these great burial mounds, too, structures of a sort, as well.

8:00 AM  

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