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Title: Monuments in the pre-historic landscape of the Maltese Islands : ritual and domestic transformations
Authors: Stoddart, Simon
Keywords: Malta -- Antiquities
Human geography -- Malta
Inscriptions -- Malta
Megalithic monuments -- Malta
Issue Date: 2002
Publisher: University of Hawai’i Press
Citation: Inscribed landscapes : marking and making place / edited by Bruna David and Meredith Wilson. U.S.: University of Hawai’i Press, 2002. p. 176-186. 0824824725
Abstract: The Maltese Islands, located to the south of Sicily in the central Mediterranean, provide a fine and relatively well preserved example of pre-Historic landscape inscription. The islands are rich in monumental architecture, including temples, megaliths, mortuary complexes, terraces, enclosures, and domestic structures. But these have not remained constant over time: major changes in monument building have taken place over the millennia, implying changes in social, political, and religious life. In this chapter I explore these architectural changes and their broader social implications. Constructional conditions in the Maltese Islands were favorable for long-term archaeological survival: the geology of the Maltese Islands presented local communities with major stone resources for building and rebuilding. This comprised substantially two types of building material: soft Globigerina limestone suitable for architectural embellishment, and a coralline limestone suitable for more solid blocks and infill. Other, more fragile forms of constructional material, such as wood, were less readily available and consequently played a lesser role in monumental architecture. Creative conditions were also favorable. Island conditions conspired to produce a cycle of complexity in the treatment of the built environment and a subsequent cycle of reinterpretation of that built environment. A period of agricultural colonization and consolidation (ca. 5500-4100 B.C.E.) was followed by a phase of ritualization (ca. 4100-2500 B.C.E.) and, in turn, by a radical reworking of the material remains of that ritualization (ca. 2500-800 B.C.E.) until the process was truncated by the intervention of Phoenician influence (Stoddart 1999a). The Maltese Islands thus constitute a good case study for the consideration of some current approaches to material display, inscribed in landscapes. They provide a palimpsest of inscriptions and reinscriptions where traces of the previous landscape can provide an important foundation for the new. This, in essence, is the force of inscription.
Description: Chapter 12
Appears in Collections:Melitensia Works - ERCWHMlt

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