Uncovering and understanding prehistory

Skorba Temples

Through numerous excavations mainly by Prof david trump, Skorba is of utmost importance because it not uncovered prehistory but it also helped archaeologists and scholars focusing on this period to understand the different phases that prehistory in Malta went through. 

Skorba Temples
The site of Skorba lies in the hamlet of Żebbiegħ, on the outskirts of Mġarr, overlooking the nearby valley and providing a spectacular view of the surrounding landscape.

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

Site
Excavated by David Trump in the early 1960s, quite late when compared to other similar sites, this temple is unique for providing crucial evidence concerning the domestic aspect of the prehistoric people, including the temple builders themselves.

This archaeological site includes the remains of two megalithic temple structures, one of which dates from the earliest phase of megalithic construction – the Ġgantija Phase.

The other was constructed at a later stage in prehistory, that is, the Tarxien Phase.

In addition, there are also the remains of several domestic huts, in which the prehistoric temple builders used to dwell.

Some structures date from before the Temple Period (i.e. before 3600 BC), and therefore, are among the oldest constructed structures on the Maltese Islands.

Discoveries
Although not many artifacts were unearthed from Skorba temples, the site proved to be of utmost importance because it unraveled archaeological timelines that were confusing scholars for decades.

This roughly carved stone, barely recognizable as a female human figure, was found with the most obvious ones on the floor of the Red Skorba shrine

The best preserved of the figurines from Skorba was found in three pieces. The most notable features are the exaggerated thighs combined with even more exaggerated buttocks and female triangle.

This attractive object of Red Skorba ware served as a ladle, as wear on their lips shows.

One of the most unexpected in the excavations at Skorba was a series of fragmentary female figures ...

... schematic but clearly recognizable

Excavation
The upright block at its entrance was recognised in 1914 was discovered by Sir Temi Zammit along with Carmelo Rizzo. Thereafter it became known as the ‘Menhir at Sebbieh’, or l’Iskolba. It appears that only a single upright slab could be seen protruding from a mound of earth and stones.

Work began by David Trump in May 1960, with a team of English university students, local volunteers and three labourers lent by the Public Works Department (PWD).

The excavations not only uncovered Temple structures and a number of important artefacts but it also brought to daylight fragments of walls and floors of earlier huts.

The EU funded Interreg IIIB Archimed Project for Skorba and Ta’ Hagrat had four work packages.

These work packages included project management, cataloguing of the archaeological heritage in the designated areas, the scientific study of the sites, and the dissemination of the project’s results

The dissemination of information was done through a number of national and international activities.

In the words of David Trump himself, this site was not only as important as any of the others for the part it played in uncovering the whole prehistory of Malta, [but] it was more important than all the others put together.

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