The island of the goddess

  • Giulio Magli

She sleeps, serene, pleased by her own exaggerated sensuality, exaggerated by our aesthetic canons, of course, to the extent that many call her by the rather disrespectful name of “the Fat Lady”.

No one knows if the sculptor who carved her was inspired by his own beloved or was simply following an established model of an idealized female form. I lean toward the first hypothesis, because the sculpture is a masterpiece, the infusion of a creative soul into 12 centimeters of statuette. This little gem, today at the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta, on the island of Malta, was unearthed in one of the world's most singular and enigmatic places, the Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni. It dates back to the island's prehistory, specifically to the thousand-year span (c. 3500 to 2500 BC) referred to as the Temple Period, during which this small and arid Mediterranean archipelago, composed of Malta, the nearby Gozo, and tiny Comino, all devoid of the natural resources most commonly used at the time (such as flint), its terrain battered by the wind and thus difficult to farm, was home to a magnificent and enigmatic civilization of megalithic builders, one that by M00 Bc\as already mature enough to have built one of the greatest architectural marvels of all human history, the Ggantja temple.

Malta's prehistory begins, if we stick with established dates, quite late by comparison to other civilizations in the same geographical area (Trump 1991, 2002). Although it may sound strange, or even unbelievable, Malta appears not to have been colonized until 5200 BC (there have been attempts to challenge this curious doctrine on the basis of the discovery of human.


National Museum Exterior Wall Winter Solstice Heavenly Body Parallel Pair 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giulio Magli

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