Biconical Bowls! The Salflieni moved from this to that (up to down) by adding a second rim on the bowl!
The Salflieni stage is named after the Hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni. The word Hypogeum literally means underground in Greek. The Hypogeum is the only underground prehistoric temple in the world.
When it was discovered in 1902 the workers who discovered it originally tried to hide the temple. I'm not really sure why, I can't seem to find the reason for their wish to hide it, but a whole bunch of mythology seems to surround this site, more on this in a later post.
The site was built primarily during the Salflieni phase and its probably for this reason that the Salflieni phase gets its name. The underground temple itself has three levels.
The top level looks a lot like other Malta structures, especially like the tombs constructed at about the same time in Xemxija, Malta. They're simple cut outs of the rock that are more or less kidney shaped. If you're thinking that you've heard that before think back to our work with Marija Gimbutas. She postulated that much of Old Europe (prior to Indo-European arrival) worshiped and lived in a matriarchal way. These kidney shaped graves were meant to place the dead back in a womb like setting for rebirth. It's a good theory and seems plausible, but not definitive by any means. Anyway that's what the tombs in Xemxija look like and the 1st level of the Hypogeum would at first appear to be very similar to these kidney womb tombs.
|Sleeping Lady from the main chamber|
|From this Unesco pic you can see why it's called a labyrinth.|
The third level was probably just storage for grain. It's thought that this temple was originally meant to be that, a temple or maybe just a house for an oracle. But it soon became a prehistoric crypt. Since excavations began the remains of over 7000 individuals have been found in this befittingly confusing maze. All of these remains though were found in levels one and two, which is why most people think that level three was probably just a place for storing grain.
As cool as the Ħal Saflieni is, it was not the only Saflieni era structures. Additions to the Ta'Hagrat Temples and even to the Ġgantija complex on Gozo were added. But, we've already covered Ġgantija well enough and I don't want to give too much away about Ta'Hagrat. So we'll just conclude here. Abruptly.