In 1846 Charles Newton of the British Museum began a search for vestiges of the Mausoleum. By 1857 he had uncovered sections of the reliefs and pieces of the roof. He also found a broken wheel from the stone chariot and, finally, the statues of Mausolos and Artemisia that had ridden in it for twenty-one centuries. All that remains of this wonder of the ancient world can now be found in the Mausoleum Room of the British Museum.

Further reading

Cox, Reg, and Neil Morris. 1996. The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Parsippany, NJ: Silver Burdett.

Hornblower, Simon. 1982. Mausolus. New York: Clarendon Press.

Megalithic temples

Malta

The oldest monumental architecture in the world is found on the tiny islands of Malta and Gozo, south of Sicily in the western Mediterranean. There, for perhaps 1,500 years from 3800 b.c., communities of neolithic farmers built about thirty massive post-and-beam temples. None of these megalithic structures has survived intact, but no doubt they were architectural masterworks, the earliest of them a thousand years older than the pyramids at Giza, Egypt. The most striking examples are at Ggantija (the word means “giant”) on Gozo and at Hagar Kim Mnajdra, Tarxien, Ta’ Hagrat, and Skorba on Malta.

The islands were first settled, quite separately, by people from southeast Sicily sometime between 5000 and 4000 b.c. These simple agrarian immigrants bred cattle, sheep, and pigs and grew lentils and barley. There probably followed a second wave of colonists from Sicily who absorbed or displaced the original group, and who left evidence of a culture expressed in communal underground tombs, for example, those at Zebbug on Malta and at Xaghra on Gozo. These graves foreshadowed the spectacular subterranean building known as the Hypogeum at Hal-Saflieni, described below. It has been suggested that later temple forms were also derived from these earlier burial places, because both building types consist of irregular compartments joined by short corridors.

Architecture, especially religious architecture, on such a scale indicates that the society produced an agricultural surplus to fund the work, that their organization permitted collaborative effort, and that their religious beliefs were strong enough to inspire and maintain that effort. The temples demonstrate a developing form. The earliest were constructed by piling massive limestone rocks that were neither dressed nor carved. Later temples, like those at Ggantija, Hagar Kim, Mnajdra, and Tarxien, were also built of huge slabs transported from neighboring quarries, but the blocks were set out to a clearly predetermined plan, carefully dressed and fitted and carved with finely detailed ornament. This later phase is lucid evidence of an ingenious people with a well-developed technology. They could transport immense blocks of stone, up to 20 feet (6 meters) high and weighing many tons, and accurately shape them using only flint or obsidian tools. The quality of the decorative work that embellished the structures—spiral carvings, intaglio patterns, and figures—demonstrates creative and artistic skills of a similar order.

The Hagar Kim and Mnajdra Temples stand on rocky ground a few hundred meters apart near the village of Qrendi on Malta’s southeast coast. Their layout is difficult to describe. For example, the entrance to the approximately oval compound at Hagar Kim is set in a wall of carefully shaped and fitted rectangular limestone blocks. The doorway itself is a trilithon (three stones). This device, consisting of two uprights supporting a lintel, would remain the essential architectural and structural element of European architecture for the next 3,000 years. But beyond the gate there is a confused assemblage of amorphous rooms and courtyards linked by corridors, whose elaborate arrangement must be seen to be understood.

The three temples and the small enclosure of the Mnajdra complex are built of hard and soft limestones and are rather better defined. Two large elongated elliptical spaces forming a figure eight make up the largest building; they are entered through trilithonic doorways flanked by small square apses. The enclosing walls are built in two layers; internally they present as tall, massive slabs, while the outer face is constructed of masonry blocks. Although