Tarxien is one of five Megalithic temples on Malta. Built in 2800 BC it is famous for the complexity of its construction, the abundance of prehistoric paintings, carvings and archaeological artifacts. Nowadays it is part of UNESCO world heritage and is protected by the international law.
It consists of three separate temple constructions built of huge stone blocks. They are connected with corridors. Each temple has an altar decorated with carvings of animal and human silhouettes, spirals and other geometrical figures. According to the historians and archaeologists, the antique habitants of Malta used these temples for religious rituals such as prays and animal sacrifices. Also, the South temple has traces of cremation referring to the Bronze Age.
The central part of Tarxien temple was encountered in 1914 by Maltese farmers that struck a huge stone while ploughing the field. They had supposed that these stones might have archaeological value and reported about their finding to the direction of National Maltese Museum. The archaeological excavations were held in 1915-1917 by Sir Themistocles Zammit, the prominent Maltese historian, archaeologist, rector of Maltese University and the first curator of National Maltese Museum.
During the investigations lots of antique pottery, jewelry, animal bones and statues were found. Besides, the precious examples of prehistoric art were encountered on the walls of the temple: reliefs, carvings, paintings. Some walls are decorated with a spiral pattern that is a very common design encountered in Megalithic temples all over the world. The spiral is believed to represent eternity and is considered to be very important for people of that time.
While excavating the temple two statues of the goddesses of fertility were found. They are figures of stout women and are associated with Mother Earth. Nowadays the statues are exhibited in National archaeological Museum of Malta. Also, spherical stones were encountered during the investigations – they were used while building the temple for transporting huge rocks.
The Tarxien Complex was reconstructed in 1956 and nowadays some stone blocks are being held in National Archaeological Museum in Valletta for better preserving. The temple is a popular tourist attraction due to its unique artifacts and atmosphere of remote times of Megalithic period.