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Title: Journeys through the underworld in Late Neolithic Malta
Other Titles: Decoding Neolithic Atlantic and Mediterranean island ritual
Authors: Grima, Reuben
Keywords: Island archaeology -- Malta
Hypogeum (Paola, Malta)
Prehistoric peoples -- Malta
Burial -- Malta -- History
Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum (Paola, Malta)
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Oxbow Books
Citation: Grima, R. (2016). Journeys through the underworld in Late Neolithic Malta. In G. Nash & A. Townsend (Eds.), Decoding Neolithic Atlantic and Mediterranean island ritual (pp.202-213). Oxford: Oxbow Books.
Abstract: The mortuary sites of Late Neolithic Malta have attracted considerable attention on account of their monumental construction and remarkable evidence for ritual practices. Past interpretations regarding the configuration and layout of the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum on Malta have tended to focus on the subterranean mimicry of above-ground temple architectural elements. The geological environment in which the Hypogeum is situated appears, however, also to have played a decisive role in shaping the site in the first instance. It is argued in this chapter that the influence of the local geology on the form and layout of the Hypogeum is more decisive than hitherto believed, and this aspect is of fundamental importance for a better understanding of the site. It is further argued that the creators of Ħal Saflieni not only respected the local geology for structural reasons, but also that geological features themselves also acquired powerful symbolic connotations. The excavation of burial spaces at Ħal Saflieni was itself an exploration of the underworld, a voyage of discovery of mysterious subterranean boundaries in the rock that became potent markers of cosmological boundaries.
ISBN: 9781785700507
Appears in Collections:Scholarly Works - FacBenCBH

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