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21 October 2006
5,000-year-old graffiti at Tarxien Temples to be saved

Heritage Malta is currently undertaking the preservation of two unique megaliths at Tarxien Temples as part of the BOV Tarxien Temples Project. These megaliths are significant because they bear witness to the vessels that transported the very first people to the Maltese Islands, and may well be the oldest representations of ships or boats ever discovered.
     The Tarxien Temples, dating back to around 3600 BCE, hold an impressive number of prehistoric works of art, consisting mostly of megaliths carved in relief to depict various animals, spirals and other intricate designs.  The majority were moved indoors, to the National Museum of Archaeology, in 1956 to prevent deterioration from exposure to the elements. The so-called ship graffiti megaliths were not removed from the site at the time as they appeared to be in good condition.  However, continuous exposure to fluctuating temperatures, wind, rainfall and humidity, have led to the rapid deterioration of these megaliths. Should they be left on site the graffiti will certainly be lost.
     Heritage Malta is now making preparations to move these megaliths indoors through the BOV Tarxien Temples Project. They have been treated to ensure that no more material is lost from the megaliths' surfaces, and that they will not be damaged further during transportation.
     The ship graffiti megaliths will initially be placed within the existing visitors' building at the Tarxien Temples, where Heritage Malta's conservators will be able to carry out any additional interventions to ensure their preservation. The megaliths will eventually be displayed within the new visitors' centre which shall be constructed close to the site as part of the BOV Tarxien Temples Project.

Source: The Malta Independent (20 October 2006)

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