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Hagar Qim

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Lindsay Dean

on 16 August 2013

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Transcript of Hagar Qim

Sites on the Hagar Qim Complex
What Religion Was Practiced Here?
Hagar Qim is one of the oldest religious sites in the world. The site contains many altars, and there is evidence that a religious priest-like figure was in charge.
There is fire damage on a lot of the stones, and a back room that is filled with animal bones. This suggests that there was a sacrifice-based belief system.
The oracle holes line up with the summer solstice, while the entry ways arguably line up with the phases of the moon. These may have been people who worshiped gods in the sky.
Etchings of male and female reproductive parts and Venus figurines are found at this site. It is most widely accepted that this was a fertility based religion.
What is it?
Hagar Qim is one of the most ancient religious sites in the world.
It is located on the island of Malta. It has been recognized as a World Heritage Site.
The structure is a megalithic temple complex, consisting of three buildings, that gives insight to the architecture, building techniques, and religion of the early Maltese people.
Who Discovered It?
The first archaeological documentation of this site dates back to 1647,
In 1851, an archaeologist named J.G. Vance cleared the site and began excavation.
Excavations have been continued by A. A. Caruana, Sir Themistocles Zammit, T.E. Peet, and Dr. Baldacchino.
When Was Hagar Qim Built?
Hagar Qim was built during the Ggantija phase of temple building. It is dated to 3,300 BC.
The Ggantija phase was the earliest of the Maltese temple building phases.
Map of Hagar Qim
There is very little archaeological evidence of early settlements on Malta due to poor preservation. This means that it is very unclear who built this megalithic temple.
The evidence that we do have, mostly animal bones, shows that these people were predominantly agricultural. The animal fossils are mostly non-native species, indicating that people brought them to Malta from mainland Europe.
There is architectural evidence that Hagar Qim went through three phases of construction during the period it was inhabited.
Who Built Hagar Qim?
What is it Made Out Of?
Hagar Qim is constructed out of large stone slabs and boulders, which is part of what makes it so impressive.
These boulders were smoothed and squared off, an impressive way of making building blocks for this time.
The primary stone found on Malta is a form of limestone called Globigerina.
This type of limestone does not typically hold up well to weathering. Hagar Qim has remained extremely well preserved considering this. Archaeologists have erected a large tent to protect this site from further erosion.
Typical of the Ggantija temple building style, the Main Temple consists of five apses and a main corridor. The main entrance consists of a trilithon doorway with three megaliths on either side. Globigerina is fairly soft, making it easy to carve designs into the surface. Portholes were carved into the stone as doorways between rooms.
What is the Architectural Style?
example of a porthole
Shaped Stones of the Temple
There is an aperture in the wall in each apse that connect to small shrines. These are known as "oracle holes". In the fifth apse, the oracle hole is positioned so that the sun shines in on the summer solstice.
There are also stones carved into mushroom shaped altars. The shape of these could be connected to the use of hallucinogenic mushrooms.
Who Occupied Hagar Qim?
Hagar Qim served only as a place of worship, not as a place to live. The term "dwelling-house" is misleading, because no one actually lived in them. These areas served more as sleeping rooms for people worshiping overnight, or for protection against storms.
Some evidence suggests that religious leaders may have stayed here for extended periods of time, but it was not a permanent residence.
Fertility Etchings
Sacrificial Rituals
There are several pieces of archaeological evidence that indicate animal sacrifice took place here, most likely to appease the gods they believed in.
One altar appears to have been built specifically for sacrificial rituals. It was built with a raised edge, so that blood would not run off the altar. The pillar of the altar has a notch carved into it, which was most likely for tethering animals to the altar.
There is a room behind the Niche in which a very large amount of animal bones have been uncovered.
The area of Hagar Qim consists of six main sites:
The Forecourt: This is the area in front of the main temple, characterized by a pavement of large, irregular stone slabs.
The Dwelling-Houses and Bastion: The dwellings are small, circular rooms made from medium-sized stone slabs. The bastion is a 20 meter long wall that guards the Main Temple.
The Northern Temple: This temple is made up of a large oval room with semi-circular apses on the sides. It has three layers of flooring, which could correlate to the three stages of construction of Hagar Qim.
The Women's Chamber: This chamber is the first room off of the oval corridor in the Northern Temple. It features an oracle hole and indents to hold libation jars.
The Main Temple: This temple was built from entirely smoothed over rocks. It features many altars, stone statuettes, orthostats, and spiral-shaped etchings.
The Niche: This is an enclosure off of a doorway within the Main Temple that is made up of heavy slabs. It holds an altar that has been greatly discolored by fire which may have been used in sacrificing animals.
The Forecourt
A dwelling-house
The Northern Temple
The Women's Chamber
The Main Temple
The Niche
There is an open-air shrine on the northern side of the main temple. The facade of this shrine has etchings of male and female reproductive organs. It is believed that this was a method for worshiping fertility and human reproduction.
Venus Figurines
There have been a total of nine Venus figurines uncovered in the Main Temple.
The Venus of Malta was found here. This Venus figurine has no head or feet, and exaggerated sexual characteristics.
Venus figurines are thought to be connected to a worshiping of fertility and pregnancy because they are arguably carved from the viewpoint of a pregnant woman looking down at herself.
How is it Being Preserved?
As mentioned earlier, Hagar Qim is built out of a form of limestone, which is highly susceptible to erosion.
To protect Hagar Qim from the factors of erosion, such as wind and precipitation, a tent was erected to cover the site.
The project cost roughly 4.7 million euro, but it was worth it. Deterioration of the site has been dramatically reduced.
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