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Ghajn Zejtuna Prehistoric Temple

At Ghajn Zejtuna, near the coast, there are the remains of a megalithic temple. Today only part of this structure remains.

The discovery of this megalithic structure goes back to1934, when Flight Lt. R. Forbes Bentley reported to the Museums Department the discovery of the ruins of a minor megalithic building at Ghajn Zejtuna. According to the archaeological report of that period, the ruins that were found were hardly sufficient to give them the outline of the original plan. In their report they say that the megaliths were inclined so as to form three circular enclosures which open on a rectangular space in the centre of the building. They reported that its main entrance was probably from the East. The structure comprised a circular enclosure, measured about 3.30 metres from its entrance to the back wall, and 1.50 metres in width. At that time the remains of an outer wall were still recognizable. 1
The report continues that the largest standing megalith measured some 1.40 metres in height, 1.60 metres in length and 0.70 cm in thickness. On the other hand, the rest of the stones were a couple of inches from the soil. A number of Stone Age potsherds and fragments of chirt were recovered from among the rubble. Unfortunately, as these remains were found very close to the shore they could be reached by the sea, so very little soil was left round the megaliths. 2
Some twenty-five years later, archaeologist J. D. Evans in his book stated that these remains could be a trefoil-shaped monument in the style of the larger temple at Mgarr or Kordin III. Evans reported also that he could not find any material from this site and that it had been eroded away by the sea. 3
At this period and many years later, villas were built in this valley and many believed that these remains were lost forever. Fortunately, in recent times, this megalithic building or more precisely what remained was found by archaeologist Ernest Vella and Nixxiegha Kulturali. Unfortunately, part of this temple was destroyed by the building, but the remainder is still preserved. These consist of number of large rocks and two apses. However, the rocks were all over-turned. 4

1 Government of Malta, ‘Archaeological Section’, Museum Annual Report 1934-35.
2 Ibid.
3 J. D. Evans. The Prehistoric antiquities of the Maltese islands: A survey, University of London The Athlone Press, Great Britain, 1971, p 29.

4 Ernest Vella., ‘Il-Wirt Arkeologiku tal-Qedem’, Joe Catania (ed), Il-Mellieha: Mal-Milja taz-Zmien, Kunsill Lokali Mellieha, Malta, 2002, pp 28-29.



Researched and Written by: Charles Debono B.A.(Hons) History

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