Malta is the land of mysteries and weird archeological discoveries. This country is as always, shrouded in mystery when it comes to historical what-the-fuckery and strange findings.
Here’s a list of six Maltese mysteries, some of which are well-known, while others are still a tad underground (literally).
1. The Cippi of Melqart
Some time around the 17th Century, some random person discovered two weird three-foot white marble column-like cylinders in Marsaxlokk. They were taken to some dude’s villa in Marsa to be used as entrance decorations like those tacky roaring lions. They were kept there for ages, until some priest saw them and noticed that they were inscribed.
These marble cylinders had inscriptions over them which seemed to be Greek and another mysterious language — Phoenician, a language which was undeciphered at the time.
These cippi (because that’s the technically word for ancient, small pillars with inscriptions) honoured Melqart — the god of life and death to the Phoenicians. The Greeks considered this god to actually be Hercules, so in like 500 BC, they decided to build a joint temple for them/him in Tas-Silġ.
In other words, the Phoenician language was deciphered because of these cippi — a discovery which did not only have national significance, but also an international one. The inscription on these columns became known as the First Maltese.
2. The Phoenician shipwreck
There’s a sunken ship between Malta and Gozo, and it happens to be the oldest shipwreck in the Mediterranean Sea. The 2,700 year old wreck is spread across a sizeable area on the seabed and includes urns, wine jugs and grinding stones.
The shipwreck was never really brought to surface, but the archeologists took a lot of photos of it, so it’s alright; we can look at the photos.
To be fair, it is nearly 3,000 years old and happens to lie 100 meters below sea level, so it’s a bit of a bitch to get to and an even bigger bitch to bring up intact.
3. The Ġgantija Legend
We’ve all been to Ġgantija and we’ve all heard the story that it was probably built by giants. These temples are way older than the pyramids, which means that they’re older than 5,000 years old.
It seems like a lot of people believe different stories about this temple, but we will choose to go with the Gozitan one.
There once lived a giantess in Xagħra who only ate broad beans and honey. This giantess went on to have sex with a common regular-sized Gozitan man, and of course, got pregnant.
She later on just put her child on her shoulder and built the Ġgantija temples as a place of worship. Sweet.
4. The Ħamrun Underground
Old maps dating back to the 17th Century show that underground tanks were excavated to store rainwater in Ħamrun.
These cisterns were constructed to help transport water from the Wignacourt Aqueduct to Valletta and Mdina. The underground channels are apparently still full of water, passing through Floriana and Santa Venera too.
Allegedly, some years ago, someone was excavating a neighbourhood block in Ħamrun and accidentally unearthed these underground reservoirs with serious consequences.
Some of these cisterns even come in contact with Second World War shelter galleries. It is also speculated that there might be Roman remains in the area — especially since five tombs of the era were excavated in the Marsa area back in 1947 and other remains were found near the Marsa Canal in 1956.
In earlier copies of the Annual Museum Reports 1930-1931, it is said that in Via Casal Curmi, Ħamrun tombs with human bones and amphorae were found… dating all the way back to the Roman era.
The St. Paul Catacombs are generally thought to be Maltese, but they date back at least 2,000 years, which means that they date back to the Roman Empire.
However, it is thought that they are a transitional burial place from a Carthaginian colony to a Roman village. Interestingly, there’s a Jewish, a Pagan and a Christian section too.
The catacombs of St. Paul even have tables made out of rocks used for ceremonial meals to commemorate the dead and one of the chambers was even transformed into a church during the Arab era.
There’s even etchings on certain tombs which suggest that surgeons and merchants were buried in these grounds.
What’s really interesting about this site is that the Christian, Jewish and Pagan tombs are pretty much side by side, which means that no distinction was made between these religious beliefs. Other catacombs around the island are far more specifically Christian, like the ones in Mqabba.
6. Cart Ruts
These weird parallel lines are found all over the island, from St. Julian’s to Dingli Cliffs and even underwater. They are man-made and some people speculate that they may be a system which was used to carry temple rocks from one place to another.
However, a more sensible theory to these weird lines is that they are a system which catches water. Or you know, that they were landing strips for UFOs.