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14 November 2000
Malta's Hal Saflieni Hypogeum opens to the public

The island of Malta is only five miles wide, but its rich cultural heritage spans more than 7,000 years. Situated in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, it is home to an amazing archaeological treasure. The Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, built some 4,500 years ago, is a subterranean burial chamber carved out of solid bedrock beneath a Neolithic temple. And now, after a nine-year restoration that cost more than $1 million, this Maltese treasure is open to the public.
     Accidentally discovered in 1902, the Hypogeum is a roughly hewn, multi-room tomb that descends several stories below ground and covers an area of more than 464 square meters (5,000 square feet). The remains of more than 7,000 individuals were recovered by archaeologists who believe this sacred site was not only a tomb, but a place of worship. Little is known about the culture that created this marvel with only rudimentary stone tools; they disappeared around 2000 BCE In 1980, the Hypogeum, along with the Ggantija Temple - the oldest free-standing monument in the world, which was built about 1,000 years before the Egyptian pyramids of Giza - were added to the World Heritage List of Archaeological Sites. The Hypogeum was opened to the public on August 31, 2000. For more information: www.visitmalta.com

Source: Discovering Archaeology (26 September 2000)

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