The Malta Independent 14 November 2018, Wednesday

Maltese temple builders and their enigmatic capital

Tuesday, 21 November 2017, 09:40 Last update: about 13 months ago

A different perspective from a Greek researcher. Words: Al Nika

Prehistory has fascinated me since the time I can remember. From the Pyramids of Egypt to the Stonehenge in England there is a whole ancient world out there shrouded in mystery waiting to be uncovered. When I was young my father introduced me to a copy of the Apology of Socrates by Plato, which I still own and it's shelved in my library collection. Being of Greek descent I always assumed it was my duty to read it, nevertheless, as time passed I realized that it should be an obligation for everyone.  After all, he is the founder of western philosophy. Thus, my long and exciting journey of finding lost worlds through the ancient-Greek-writings began. Little did I know that it will lead me to the discovery of the greatest civilization of them all - and no, it's not ancient Greece but the great temple builders of Malta.

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Very little is known by mainstream historians about the people who constructed the countless temples on the island of Malta, even less of their alleged disappearance around 2,500BC. Unfortunately, they left no writings so whatever bits of information known about them were gathered by archeologists through the artifacts found nearby. I travelled to Malta, for the first time in the second week of June, and I left no archeological site unvisited on both islands. I got to admit that I feel a little guilty for skipping any place younger than 4,500 years old, but I was so obsessed with the temple builders that there was no time for any Roman or Phoenician ruins, and believe me - there are plenty of them. My last stop was at the Tarxien temples. As I entered the archeological site my heart just dropped. I felt like I had lived in this place all my life.  Everything that I had read about it was there, from the elliptical apses to the type of rock used in its walls, even the animal sacrifice room. Having said that, the descriptions I had read were about a different site in the capital of the Temple Builders. Nevertheless, the similarities were uncanny!

When I finished my visit, as I was exiting the place, I got into a discussion with the tour guys. We got deeper into the conversation about the people who build this magnificent temples and I realized how little the Maltese people know about prehistory on this island. When asked about the red rocks that decorate the various walls, I was told bluntly that it was brought from Sicily as that type of rock doesn't exist on Maltese land. I was shocked - the previews day I had found that particular red rock inside a cave on the east side of the island, next to an undiscovered archeological site. Furthermore, when asked about the small dots, or depreciation holes, decorating facades at Hagar Qim I was told that it was a type of calendar. I tried to explain to them that they're placeholders for small flashy metal which Greeks called Orichalcum to make the wall shine like fire. They didn't want to listen to me. There was no point in telling them what Orichalcum really was.

I left the place disappointed and headed for the easternmost part of the island, towards Marsaxlokk. As I got by the bay near the water I sat down on a bench. The sun was setting on my back and I started contemplating my thoughts: I had come a long way looking for something on this island - a place that has been sought by millions of people, ancient and modern, including the Phoenicians. They all failed where I succeeded and yet, there I was sitting on the beach holding the greatest archeological secret of all times and no one knew about it or even cared.

As a kid, when I was reading ancient Greek literature, I came to realize that different ancient writers in relating a certain common place of origin for their civilization were describing the same place. They were describing different times by using different names and yet they're all talking about the same Island. Some would call it the White Island, others refer to them as the Island at the end of the world, in mythology they're known as Titans but the most common name was the Island of the Blessed. It was the place where God himself lived and begets his children and the entire ancient people, in particular the Greeks and Egyptians, traced their origin - the cradle of all civilizations.  It was these people that for the first time realized that earth was round and through the movements of the Sun and Moon invented the first calendar, Solar and Lunar. They created the aqueducts as well as the first chariots. Nevertheless, their greatest invention was Democracy. Yes, they were the first to set up that type of governing. Of course they must have used a different name but nevertheless, it was not that different from the later Athenian democracy. The irony is that it was a privilege only for the ever-growing royal society, as the rest of the population lived under a monarchy.

As a teenager, I was fascinated by this place but I couldn't pinpoint its exact location let alone its capital. One has to understand that ancient writings get corrupted over time and certain descriptions take the form of a myth. However, it wasn't until I came across two books written by philosopher Plato when I grasped the idea that this place was not only a real site but I could narrow it down to a certain degree. The books, Timaeus and Critias, describe the location as well as its construction, respectively. Not long after, I realized that Plato was talking about Malta. Although he wasn't the original writer of the story, he did, in fact, incorporate it into these two books which were written in Platonic style - the Dialog.

The story goes as follows: a Greek lawmaker, Solon (~600 B.C), visits ancient Egyptian city of Sais, near the Nile delta. There he meets a priest, Sonchis, who informs him of a great war at a distant past between the ancient Athenians and the so-called the Atlas people. The priest describes the place to the smallest detail as well as the construction of its capital. Solon translates and passes this story from Egypt to Athens. From him, the story reaches Plato - a distant relative of Solon. All of this and more are described by various characters incorporated into the dialogs written by the philosopher himself. It wasn't long after when I realized that the place I was looking for was already known by its modern name - Atlantis.

I got to admit that I got confused when I first read the story in Modern Greek. The book was describing a vast island somewhere in the Atlantic. The ancient writings have nothing to do with the modern version as far as the description of the place goes. Nowhere does it talk about a vast island or highly advanced civilization and definitely, nowhere does it mention the Atlantic Ocean. Apparently, the modern version of the story was written about 400 years ago and the translators combined their own opinions into it. Thus, I spent years into trying to find the truth by deciphering the description given by the ancient manuscript, word for word. My conclusion: the modern perception of the city of Atlantis is so different from the real story.

It wasn't until summer of 2013 that I narrowed the location of the capital of this magnificent civilization not far from the modern city of Valletta. Although I couldn't see it, I knew it was somewhere there. Two more years of intense geological and satellite viewing research passed and on 4 June 2015, I finally had the first look of the destroyed capital. Right there by the coast, where a huge landslide had taken place laid the ruins of a destroyed city. I was in shock! How come the Maltese archeologists had missed it? Partial concentric rings, straight channels and yet no one ever noticed it?! Two miles down the slope and a huge piece of 300 by 500 metres of rocky flat ground lay hidden into the darkness of the sea waiting to be discovered. This is the heart of the city! Apparently, the geologist who discovered the landslide didn't bother to contact any archeologist, to make sure if any civilization lived in that area at the time of the destruction.

More time passed and here I was, June 2017, sitting by the bay of Marsaxlokk still contemplating my thoughts when I took my long-awaited decision: I had to report the find to the Superintendent of Heritage of Malta. The very next day I went to their office in Valletta, accompanied by a friend of mine, a journalist. We're greeted by a gentleman named Mark Anthony, who gave me an impression of being a secretary. After a brief awkward conversation with him, we were introduced to the deputy superintendent Dr Nathaniel Cutajar, a more down to earth guy. Although I was trying to explain to both the importance of the find, by showing images of the site, I soon realized that there was no point in continuing. Nevertheless, he promised me that he will look into it if I submitted an official preliminary report with the exact coordinates, via an electronic mail. A few days later I got a confirmation from them receiving the report. It's been a month now and no word from the office of the superintendent.

As I am writing these lines I start to realize why there is such animosity from the Maltese authorities towards this subject. Many before me must have claimed that they have found the city of Atlantis in Malta. After all, the fabled lost city has been "found" a countless time. The problem though doesn't lie with the claims but the perception that the orthodox historians/archeologists have about this city. Nowhere did Plato describe anything of what people are saying. No huge continents or Oceans, rather a small island, and a small sea. He is describing a primitive society, advanced only by their time period. Nowhere did Plato say outside the pillars but inside. Furthermore, he said that this place is in Malta, first by calling it Atlas, which in any ancient language can be written as Malta, it is a common knowledge among linguistics that all ancient languages are written right to left and S is written as M. Secondly and most importantly, he called the second city of Atlas - Gadira (Il Ghadira) in the language of the people living there in 600BC as well as Eumelous in ancient Greek (Melite in Latin) which translates into the best honey.

It is very important that the Maltese authorities take the matter very seriously. The area of destruction, the archeological site, span more than 2-3km in diameter, and it might take time for it to be secured as it is easily accessible by professional divers. It will be a shame to get looted by amateurs. The authorities must investigate the area and secure its perimeters from outside intruders. Its intriguing history will lure many curious divers which might contribute into irreparable damages as well as lost artifacts. It doesn't take much effort for a simple investigation. With a few dives by underwater archaeologists it will be easy to confirm the existence of the site. Unfortunately, if I don't hear anything from the authorities within a short time I will be obligated to reveal the location of the find to the Maltese people, after all, it is part of their history and they have the right to know about it.

I am finishing a lengthy book where I explain everything and anything I have discovered about these magnificent people. I hope that soon the place will receive the attention it deserves and finally put Malta at the centre of the world map.


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