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Hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni

Hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni

Hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni located in Paolo on the island of Malta is the only known prehistoric underground temple. Underground complex date back to the third millennium BC. The temple is located at a depth of 11 meters under the surface carved from a solid rock using some preexisting natural cave structures.




Location: Paolo, Malta Map








In total religious pagan complex consists of 33 rooms located on three levels on the total are of 500 square meters. Multiple stairs, ladders and passages unite the whole system into one huge man- made cave. Later the temple was transferred into a necropolis for the dead. Archaeologists found remains of over 7,000 people, several altars, vases, ornaments and many figurines including two sleeping women. The last two figurines are kept in the Museum of Archaeology in Valletta, Malta. Some historians suggested that the temple had importance in cult of fertility. Located underground it was probably the closest ancient people could approach the goddess of the Earth. Additionally some suggested as in other later cultures of the Ancient World this temple had priestesses perform all the sacraments. Unfortunately scarcity of description leaves us little clues either support or deny this theory. Another theory exist that an oracle once lived here. Due to his proximity to the kingdom of the dead he could predict the future. This drew many pilgrims to the island that allowed extensive digs that expanded the Hypogeum. But this is also just a theory that has very little credible evidence.

Hypogeum was originally re- discovered accidentally in 1902 by construction crew who were putting sewer system here. Even though the builders realized the structure was unique they kept it secret and used it as a dumping ground for their construction material. It was not until Catholic Jesuit priest father Emmanuel heard about the find, then the workers stopped destroying the site. Subsequent archaeological digs discovered thousands of bones from humans and animals alike. After death of father Emmanuel in 1907 another archaeologist, Sir Themistocles Zammit, took over digs inside Hypogeum.

The first level is probably the oldest part of the underground system. It appears that several natural caves were united into one by passages. The second level of the cave is probably one of the most fascinating in the structure. Its main chamber was probably the center chamber for the whole temple. Figurines of laying women were recovered from here. Additionally color pigments covered the walls of the room suggesting key importance in a pagan cult. Other rooms include the Oracle's Room, Snake Pit, and Decorated Room. The third level of Hypogeum contained only water upon its discovery. It might have been used as a cistern for storage of water.

Then traveling to Hypogeum  of Ħal-Saflieni, don't forget that this an UNESCO Heritage Site so it is kept under strict safety measures for future preservation. Only 80 people are allowed to enter per day so book your trip. Additionally don't litter or leave any graffiti on the walls. Don't make us look bad before the descendants.


Hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni  Hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni











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