25

Why is there such a concentration of early neolithic temples on Malta?

Seven world heritage sites, plus several other significant locations (see Megalithic Temples of Malta) adds up to a lot of temple tons per Malta's 316 square kilometers. That's one site every 24 square kilometers.

Is this density reflected elsewhere in Europe, or North Africa, or the Mediterranean? My impression is that it isn't.

If there are more temple tons per square km in Malta, then either:

  • More were built in Malta or ...
  • Same number were built everywhere but were taken down/eroded everywhere else.

So I guess my question is, did Malta 3000BC have more spare capacity than everywhere else? Or otherwise where did all the other temples go?

edit: When I say "temple ton" I mean a ton of stone in a discretionary neolithic structure. Like a measure of effort available from the population.

  • What's implausible about an isolated island civilization that produced a lot of structures? – John Dee Aug 2 '18 at 3:12
  • How is it known that those Neolithic structures were in fact temples? – jamesqf Aug 2 '18 at 17:18
3

Here are some reasons that might have contributed:

  • Malta is basically a limestone archipelago, with an abundance of Globigerina limestone that is particularly easy to process and use in construction (source). This means that temples were easy to construct, and that the re-use value of their material was relatively low.
  • Malta had little fertile soil, which constrained the density of population, leading to better preservation of temples.
  • The slow process of soil formation also meant that some of the temples were never completely covered and were known for a long time. This led to an early archaeological interest in the beginning 19th century, which might have contributed to the discovery of even more temples (source).
  • Some scholars speculate that visual connection between different temples might have played a role in the rituals (source).

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