NOV/DEC 2016 issue


​The Temple Builders of Malta

How an isolated island culture became Europe’s most sophisticated Neolithic civilization

Gale force winds and a heavy sea changed the face of the Dwejra area of Gozo on the morning of March 8th, 2017, when the iconic "Azure Window" formation collapsed into the Mediterranean.  Stony remnants left behind are reviving the legend of the Giantess of Gozo who is said to have built the Ggantija Temples by carrying huge stones on her head.  ​Maybe she is friends with Mother Nature.

Atlantis.  REALLY?

Let's be candid.  All we know about the story of Atlantis comes from Plato, who seems to have come up with the tale while participating in a drama competition.   An island of advanced culture and knowledge that was lost beneath the sea in a single day and night -- that's dramatic all right.  So are things like the winged horses he talked about.  

Nevertheless, the kernel of something was informing Plato's imagination.  

He claimed to have learned about Atlantis by way of an uncle who got it from a priest in Egypt.  The Egyptians were good at keeping records, but unfortunately nearly all were lost in the destruction of the library at Alexandria.  This is too sad.  There would have been a lot there about Malta's megalithic structures.  The temples were still standing in the days of the Phoenicians.  Those seafaring merchants built a colony on Malta around 800 BC and traded heavily with Egypt.  Doubtless, several hundred years before Plato was born, they carried stories with them about mysterious giant stone buildings.  

The freestanding temples on Malta have not been hidden for all these six thousand years.  They would have been even more intact during the time of the Minoans, who were probably also very familiar with the structures.  Who knows what was found by the Bronze Age people who settled on Malta a few hundred years after the temples had been abruptly abandoned?   Those folks would have been compelled to come up with some kind of explanation.  

Geographically, the island of Malta sits on the northernmost edge of the African tectonic plate that is slowly slowly nosing its way under Europe.  The island slopes gently on its northern side with steep cliffs rising on the south.  There have been sketchy reports of "temple period" ruins submerged off the northern coast.  Just to the north in Sicily, Mt. Etna is still spewing volcanic smoke.   A tiny nameless island not too far away appears for a day or two every once in a while, and then recedes beneath the Mediterranean Sea.   

There are a number of intriguing coincidences and questions that relate Malta to Plato's story, not the least of which is evidence of ancient marine catastrophe in drilled sediment cores.   While we are searching for Atlantis, let's wonder how we would know it if we found it.

~ Linda Eneix, 2016



June 16, 2016 

Film director James Cameron, famous for directing Titanic and Avatar, is the executive producer on “Search for Atlantis”, a documentary which was partly shot in Malta for National Geographic Channel and Discovery Channel Canada. 

Cameron said that “Finding the historical and archaeological truth behind the Atlantis myth has always been a fascination of mine… Our exploration team will investigate several new theories about where the real Atlantis was, who these mysterious people were and what disaster wiped them from the Earth over three millennia ago.”

​Besides Malta, filming also took place in Sicily, Crete, Santorini and Sardinia. The documentary is set to premiere internationally this winter.  (NatGeo in the USA)