|12 January 2006
Ta’ Hagrat and Skorba temples open to the public
Heritage Malta, the national agency for Museums and Cultural Heritage, is opening two sites at Mgarr – Ta’ Hagrat and Skorba – on a weekly basis. These sites, both of which have been included on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1992, were previously closed to the public and could only be visited by appointment.
Ta’ Hagrat consists of two adjacent temples, the older one of which dates to the Ggantija phase (3,600-3,200 BCE). These were excavated under the direction of Sir Temi Zammit in the 1920s, after he was shown a field containing an interesting mound of stones. The older temple has a semi-circular façade with a monumental doorway. This leads into a rectangular central court that in turn leads to three semi-circular rooms, one on each side. The second, smaller building is accessed through the eastern room of the larger building, which was modified in antiquity to make space for the second building. One of the most notable finds from this excavation is a small limestone model of a roofed building which is now exhibited at the National Museum of Archaeology.
Skorba Temples, located about a kilometre away from Ta’ Hagrat, were excavated by David Trump in the 1960s. This excavation resulted in the discovery of two temples, dating to the Ggantija (3,600-3,200 BCE) and the Tarxien (3,150-2,500 BCE) phases. Skorba was occupied long before the temples were built. The earliest remains consist of a stretch of wall dating back to the Ghar Dalam phase (5,000-4,300 BCE). Remains of wheat, lentil and barley seeds together with pottery, animal bone and stone tools were found next to this wall. A more extensive structure was unearthed in the field east of the Tarxien phase temple. This consists of the stone foundations of two huts dating back to the Red Skorba phase (4,400-4,100 BCE). The discovery within these structures of a number of female figurines and goat skulls, led the excavator to suggest that these structures may have been used as some sort of shrine.
One of the most important results of the excavations at Skorba is that stratified deposits from all the prehistoric phases were found. This means that the site was occupied continuously from the first phase of human occupation of the island (c 5,000 BCE) up to the Early Bronze Age about 2,500 years later. This helped put Malta’s prehistoric sequence on a firm basis.
Both sites are open to the public every Tuesday morning, Ta’ Hagrat from 9.30am to 11am and Skorba from 11.30am to 1pm. More information about both sites can be found on Heritage Malta’s website, www.heritagemalta.org/heritagesites.html. For more information about visits or group bookings, please contact Heritage Malta on 2123-1236 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Heritage Malta, The Malta Independent (11 January 2006)
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