Skorba

Close to the quaint village of Mgarr, in the northwest of Malta, one finds a hamlet by the name Zebbiegh. Close to this hamlet lie the remains of Skorba Temples. The site comprises of two temple remains, one next to the other. Skorba Temples were excavated in the mid 1960s and are one of the most informative sites since it was left untouched during the first two phases of archaeological digs at temple sites in the early 19th and 20th centuries.

At Skorba, a typical three-apsed temple was built in the Ggantija phase (3600 – 3200 BC), replacing a village that had been inhabited since the Ghar Dalam phase (5000 – 4300 BC). Remains include the stone paving of the entrance passage, with perforations to carry libation offerings, the soft crushed stone floors of the apses, a 3.90 metre high slab of coralline limestone, and a step covered with pitted decoration.

The use of globigerina limestone in the construction of the doorway leading to the inner apse of the West temple is noteworthy since globigerina is not present in the immediate surface geology around Skorba. The nearest source is about a mile away. To transport blocks weighing more than one tonne across a mile of open country must have been an extraordinary feat.

A second temple was added to the east in the Tarxien phase (3150 – 2500 BC). It was in a more ruinous state when found, but originally consisted of four apses and a central niche.

Skorba was occupied long before the temples were built. The earliest structure identified on the site is an almost straight length of wall, of which 11m were exposed. This was dated to the Ghar Dalam phase (5000 – 4300 BC). Among the domestic waste found on its north side, which included charcoal and carbonised grain, were several fragments of daub, accidentally baked. In the field east of the Tarxien phase temple, a much more extensive structure came to light. It consisted of two rooms dated to the Red Skorba phase (4400 – 4100 BC). The irregularity of the floors and the absence of hearths seem to preclude the site’s domestic use. The group of figurines found in the northern room, now on display at the National Museum of Archaeology, suggest that this building had a religious function. It may be considered then a true predecessor of the temples which first appeared some centuries later.

A number of huts were also found to the West of the earlier temple. Eleven coralline limestone querns were found in one of these huts, dating to the Ggantija phase. Flint and chert objects, as well as obsidian from the Italian Islands of Lipari and Pantelleria were also found at this site.




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 Site by Vladimir Camilleri