Final Report

First I have to lay down some basic Maltese historical knowledge. I'll start with mentioning that Malta is the topmost point of an underwater ridge between Sicily and Africa. The island was at one time submerged until the ridge was pushed up through tectonic activity. The island appeared and to this day it is still known as "The Rock".

The first people that came to Malta crossed over from Sicily around 5200 BC. This period is known as the Neolithic period. The "Temple" period runs from approximately 3500 to 2500 B.C. As I started my research to match dates the Maltese temples where built in relation to any of the kingdoms of the eastern world, I found that the temple period is even older then the Archaic Period and the Old Kingdom period in Egypt that goes from circa 3050-2160 B.C.(Cosmos, Chaos, and the World to Come: The Ancient Roots of Apocalyptic Faith) 

As I read through Norman Cohn's book I hardly find any resemblance between the temple period in Malta and the Egyptian kingdom's apocalyptic faith at that time. Egyptians had a Pharaoh who acted as a mediator between them and the god RA, and as supreme human authority on earth. Egyptian temples displayed more developed architectural designs. 

This shows that apocalyptic faith as studied by Norman Cohn may have developed in Egypt but further west, throughout Europe, groups of people formed other smaller cults and worshiped a variety of deities that somehow brought order to chaos to their village or group of domestic structures.  

Maltese temples are older then any remaining Egyptian structure remaining today and were run by different villages and a priest presented sacrificial gifts to their mother goddess, an old European religion.

An arial view of the temples shows a resemblance in the temple 
structures to the figure of the goddess of fertility.

"Most modern scholars appreciate that the early cults were radically different in each prehistoric society and that the cults of domestic life were distinct from the cults of death and burial. The example of Malta demonstrates that variation most emphatically. Elsewhere in the Mediterranean, the cults generally involved simple domestic rituals; little effort was invested in religious art or architecture. In Malta, however, the worship of corpulent images gradually blossomed into a consuming passion. That fixation may have been able to take root because conditions there enabled a closed, isolated, introverted society to develop." (The Death Cults of Prehistoric Malta)

In Malta the worship of mother goddess developed further from domestic and became a ritual practice in temples built throughout the island, decorated by stone carved artwork and statues of the "Goddess of Fertility". 
This statue of a serene, sleeping mother goddess was discovered underground in 
temples that were also used as burial sites. A symbol of a peaceful life after death.

The cult practices are very similar to the Vedic Indians but the Rig Veda texts dates from around 1200 B.C. Unfortunately, there has not been any texts discovered on the islands of Malta and all studies have been made from various discovered carvings, statues, structures and burial sites found throughout the islands, above or underground. There are no stories related to the fertility goddess other then that she was a symbol of birth and harvest but several statues and figurines have been found that depicted a large female. She was offered animal sacrifices by priests in the temples, witnessed by the elite group from the nearby village.

Discovered burial sites in Malta also reveal the believe in after life. 
"A variety of gifts were interred with the dead: pottery, bone and stone beads and pendants, stone axes made of metamorphic rocks, flint and obsidian blades, shell pendants, and shell and bead necklaces. The bone pendants often have budlike appendages suggestive of arms and heads. Red ocher was spread lavishly over the grave goods and also over the dry white bones of the dead (perhaps in a symbolic attempt to restore them to life). At the entrance to one of the chambers stood a small upright monolith, a so-called menhir, bearing a crudely carved face that guarded the doorway." (The Death Cults of Prehistoric Malta)
Unfortunately no texts or evidence is discovered to tell of what they believed the afterlife was going to be, other then the objects above which makes us think they are preparing for a journey. 


The Rig Veda was clearly composed by and for privileged members of the vedic indians because only they could afford to offer sacrifices to the gods, securing their place in heaven while the common people were doomed for eternity. 

"Cult activities seem to have reached a feverish pitch in the final phases of the Tarxien period around 2500 B.C.E. The society was becoming increasingly dominated by a religious hierarchy in which cult specialists or priests controlled much of the industry of the people. Vast amounts of human time and energy were invested in temple building, artistic endeavors and ritual feasts. The dead were honored within cults and linked to animals and human obesity. The people seem to have expended relatively little effort on the building of villages or domestic structures, on terracing or on farming methods. The obsession with the cults of the temples seems to have been complete.

Such obsessions are dangerous, and so it proved to be on ancient Malta. By about 2500 B.C.E. the community of the temple builders had ceased to build and perhaps even to use the monumental burial sites prepared by earlier generations. By 2000 B.C.E. the entire culture had disappeared and been replaced by very different religious practices that favored cremation burials. The burial hypogea, the cult of the fat ladies, and the other symbols of the living and the dead were completely abandoned."(The Death Cults of Prehistoric Malta)

As it turns out, in Malta the whole religion doomed the population that was already living on an island with vulnerable agricultural conditions and they by no means could afford to offer such sacrifices without causing big losses and in he end total abandonment.

I conclude by saying that although there are similarities between the western apocalyptic faith and the European faith, by making this research I learned that Old European people had already developed cults while Egypt was forming its own demiurge inspired by he Nile river. But later believes like the Vedic Indians somehow developed the same practices similar to those in prehistoric Europe. The same practices that then migrated from main land Europe to the island of Malta. 





Malta 5,000-2,500 BC - 
Oldest stone buildings in the world



Works Cited:
Cohn, Norman. Cosmos, Chaos, and the World to Come: The Ancient Roots of Apocalyptic Faith. New Haven: Yale UP, 1993. Print.

Bonanno, Anthony, Caroline Malone, David Trump, and Simon Soddard. "The Death Cults of Prehistoric Malta." Scientific American (2005): n. pag. Scientific American. Web. Sept. 2016. 

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