This weekend we visited the Ã„Â gantija temples, the world’s oldest free-standing structures. The older of the two date back to 3600 BC, predating Egypt’s oldest pyramid by about 800 years. From Wikipedia:
The temples were possibly the site of an Earth Mother Goddess Fertility Cult, with numerous figurines and statues found on site believed to be connected with that cult.
In the Maltese language, Ã„Â gantija means “belonging to the giants”. According to local Gozotian legend, the temples were built by the giants who resided in Gozo during ancient times. It is said that the temples themselves were used by the giants as watchtowers.
Interestingly, it took a Brit to first excavate and protect the temples in the 19th century. I find this is often the case with archaeological finds–they often require foreigner interest to preserve them.
To be honest, the idea that these are the oldest buildings in the world was more powerful than the experience of seeing them. They are essentially neatly organized piles of crumbling rubble. There is a sense of history about the place, but I didn’t feel the way I felt at, say, the Theatre of Dionysus or even in old growth rain forest on the West Coast. Those places seemed to have a far greater spirituality for me.