Megalithic Temples of Malta

The Megalithic Temples of Malta (Maltese: It-Tempji Megalitiċi ta' Malta) are several prehistoric temples, some of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites,[1] built during three distinct periods approximately between 3600 BC and 2500 BC on the island country of Malta.[2] They had been claimed as the oldest free-standing structures on Earth until the discovery of Göbekli Tepe.[3] Archaeologists believe that these megalithic complexes are the result of local innovations in a process of cultural evolution.[4][5] This led to the building of several temples of the Ġgantija phase (3600–3000 BC), culminating in the large Tarxien temple complex, which remained in use until 2500 BC. After this date, the temple-building culture disappeared.[6][7]

Megalithic Temples of Malta
UNESCO World Heritage Site
CriteriaCultural: (iv)
Inscription1980 (4th Session)
Extensions1992, 2015
Area3.155 ha (339,600 sq ft)
Buffer zone167 ha (0.64 sq mi)
Location of Megalithic Temples of Malta (the ones in bold are UNESCO World Heritage Sites)

The Ġgantija temples were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.[8] In 1992, the UNESCO Committee further extended the existing listing to include five other megalithic temple sites. These are Ħaġar Qim (in Qrendi), Mnajdra (in Qrendi), Ta' Ħaġrat Temples (in Mġarr), Skorba Temples (in Żebbiegħ) and Tarxien Temples (in Tarxien).[8] Nowadays, the sites are managed by Heritage Malta, while ownership of the surrounding lands varies from site to site.[9][10] Apart from these, there are other megalithic temples in Malta which are not included in the UNESCO World Heritage list.

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