Were Prehistoric Temples Roofed?

Ta' Ħaġrat Temples

The prehistoric temples evidenced today are bare and subject to natural elements. Were these structures more elaborate and refined when they were built? Was there a roof on top? Who were these communities that inhabited the area, built and made use of such structures?

Ta’ Ħaġrat Temples
Set in the heart of Mġarr, a village in Northwest Malta, and smaller than most other sites of a similar nature, Ta’ Ħaġrat is home to two well-preserved adjacent structures.
Old photo, From the collection of: Ta' Ħaġrat Temples

The value of these temples has been recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

From the collection of: Ta' Ħaġrat Temples
Site
The dating of this site is still uncertain although the finds indicate a Saflieni phase (3,300 – 3,000 BC) date. 
Detail, From the collection of: Ta' Ħaġrat Temples

Ceramic material from both earlier and later periods was found within the site, indicating that the site was used both before and after the construction of the Temples.

Ta' Hagrat West Temple, From the collection of: Ta' Ħaġrat Temples

The West temple is the larger of the two buildings and dates from the earliest phases of megalithic construction – the Ġgantija phase (3600 – 3200 BC).

From the collection of: Ta' Ħaġrat Temples

This structure has a monumental doorway and façade which give the site two of its most awe-inspiring and renowned characteristics. Other features include a bench, running along the facade’s length.

Ta' Hagrat Temples courtyard, From the collection of: Ta' Ħaġrat Temples

It also has a courtyard, measuring approximately 2.5m by 4.5m, surrounded by a raised stone kerb.

Ta' Hagrat Temples chambers, From the collection of: Ta' Ħaġrat Temples

This space, accessible through the entrance corridor of the West temple, provides access to three chambers through megalithic doorways.

Ta' Hagrat East Temple, From the collection of: Ta' Ħaġrat Temples

The East Temple is the smaller structure and is built on a 4-apse plan. It is linked to the earlier one through a doorway in the eastern room.

Temple Model, From the collection of: Ta' Ħaġrat Temples
Discoveries
A number of pottery sherds and material found in this site hint to the fact that the temples replaced a village 
Ta' Hagrat Model, -4100/-2500, From the collection of: National Museum of Archaeology, Malta

On Monday 3rd of September, 1923 a sculpted scale model of a roofed megalithic building was found in the East Temple. A sketch found in the Mgarr parish records is the only entry of the spot where this model was found.

Ram's head vessel handle, From the collection of: National Museum of Archaeology, Malta

This artefact was found under about 1 feet of soil in the area to the north of the ruins.

Sir Temi Zammit's field reports, From the collection of: Ta' Ħaġrat Temples

This artefact was found under about 1 feet of soil in the area to the north of the ruins.

Sir Temi Zammit's field reports, From the collection of: Ta' Ħaġrat Temples

An artefact found in the second campaign of excavations (1924 - 1925). There is a discrepancy concerning the findspot of this artefact

Restoration work of 1937, From the collection of: Ta' Ħaġrat Temples
Excavation
How were these structures discovered and what necessary actions are being taken in order to conserve them for future generations?
1917 – Discovery of Ta' Hagrat Temples, From the collection of: Ta' Ħaġrat Temples

A mound in the field known as ‘Ta’ Ħaġrat’ was reported by Themistocles Zammit by C. Rizzo in 1917.

Sir Temi Zammit's field reports, From the collection of: Ta' Ħaġrat Temples

Zammit visited the site with G. Despott and R. Bonello on the 21st of March of the same year.

Sir Temi Zammit's field reports, From the collection of: Ta' Ħaġrat Temples

Intrigued by the remains, he immediately expressed his wish to excavate the site when funds permitted.

1923 – 1926 First excavation of Ta' Hagrat Temples, From the collection of: Ta' Ħaġrat Temples

Excavations commenced six years later by Zammit in 1923 (concluded in 1926).

Sir Temi Zammit's field reports, From the collection of: Ta' Ħaġrat Temples

The extensive damage done to the site before its discovery is referred to a number of times, both in the field notes and in the published reports.

Sir Temi Zammit's field reports, From the collection of: Ta' Ħaġrat Temples

The main doorway of this structure was restored in 1937 following damages done in the field-clearing operations. The work conducted by a small crowd consisted of the replacement of the door lintel to its original position.

Entrance, From the collection of: Ta' Ħaġrat Temples

The condition assessment of Ta’ Ħaġrat was carried out in December 2007. The visual inspection of this site led to the identification of a number of concerns which were identified and catalogued.

Boundary wall, From the collection of: Ta' Ħaġrat Temples

As part of targeted interaction by Heritage Malta members and onsite visitors between 2005 and 2007, the site was also assessed in terms of their archaeological and social value.

Side wall, From the collection of: Ta' Ħaġrat Temples

Following consultations with various stakeholders, ideal conditions were identified and priorities set.

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