Skorba Temples in Malta

Would you bother to see a unique 6,000 year old temple just because it is not as impressive or complete as the others? If you answered ‘no’, you would miss Skorba temples which would be a shame.

To be fair, the site is not large. Heritage Malta recently opened these temples up to the public for the first time. When I visited the island in May 2017, Skorba was on top of my to do list. Unfortunately it is not in the same condition as the other Maltese sites on the UNESCO world heritage list. The list contains sites like Ggantija (Read my article about this) or Mnajdra (The best place to see the summer solstice). This is not to say it is not as well-preserved. The other temples still exist whereas here only a few megaliths still stand.

A photo of the ruins at Skorba Temples - Mgarr, Malta

The remains of Skorba Temples

Skorba is a relatively recent addition to the family of Maltese neolithic temples. The authorities excavated it in the 1960s but had studied the other temples since the late 19th century. [2] Interestingly, scholars had listed it on the Antiquities List in 1925 and then forgot about it until  re-excavating it later. I wonder how much of the site “disappeared” between the 1920s and the 1960s.

The overall layout is similar to the Ggantija temple in Gozo, suggesting the ancients designed and built it at the same time. [2] This dates the temples to 3600-3200 BC; a staggering 5,600 years ago. Scholars call this phase of temple building the Ggantija phase, named after the temples. [1]

A photo of the ruins at Skorba Temples - Mgarr, Malta

Megaliths at Skorba Temples – Mgarr, Malta

This shows Skorba like to the others, so what makes this one important? Simple: archeologists gained useful information from this temple about our temple-building ancestors. [1] While other sites are complete structures, evidence of people’s lives in and around the temples was sparse.  They also converted the site a few thousand years later [1] so we now know temple builders re-used previous structures.

On site there is little information. Had I not been aware of its history before arriving, I would have been disappointed. I also was not aware I could only buy tickets from the local council offices. I found this to be annoying but I can understand Heritage Malta can’t put ticket facilities on all its sites. Perhaps they should consider selling e-tickets to simplify things (especially for tourists!)

A photo of the ruins at Skorba Temples - Mgarr, Malta

Indentations on the ground – for a door hinge, perhaps?

I stood on the wind-swept plateau west coast and stared out to sea. I wondered what the temple-building people thought of while building this place. We still don’t know why they built the temples, or what people worshipped in there.

We just know they existed.

Have you visited Skorba Temples? What did you think of them?

References

[1] Wikipedia, Megalithic temples of Malta, 2017-04-27
[2] Wikipedia, Skorba temples, 2017-02-07

 

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