structure, the pressures of increasing population, obsession with temple building that detracted from agricultural efforts, the effects of erosion on productivity, and diminishing trade links with Sicily.

The architecture they left behind was undervalued for centuries by the Maltese authorities, and through exposure to the severe marine climate and more recently shocks from nearby quarries, it inevitably decayed. In 1980 the Temple of Ggantija was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, and in 1992 the listing was extended to include five more complexes on Malta and Gozo under the title “the Megalithic Temples of Malta.” In that year a carefully designed conservation project was launched by a multinational team of experts to save the Hypogeum, whose ochre rock paintings were being badly affected by seepage and eighty years of tourism. Each site presents its individual challenge and further conservation measures are planned for the oldest monumental architecture in the world.

Further reading

Biaggi, Cristina. 1994. Habitations of the Great Goddess. Manchester, CT: Knowledge, Ideas and Trends.

Bonanno, Anthony. 1990. Malta: An Archeological Paradise. Valletta, Malta: M. J. Publications.

Zammit, Themistocles, and Karl Mayrhofer. 1995. The Prehistoric Temples of Malta and Gozo: A Description. Malta.

Menai Suspension Bridge

near Bangor, Wales

The many achievements of the Scots engineer Thomas Telford (1757–1834) include bridges over the River Severn at Montford, Buildwas, and Bewdley, all built in the 1780s. In the following decade, as engineer for the Ellesmere Canal Company, he designed and constructed aqueducts over the Ceiriog and Dee Valleys in North Wales. Temporarily returning to Scotland, with William Jessop he built the Caledonian Canal, more than 900 miles (1,440 kilometers) of highland roads, and harbor works at Dundee, Aberdeen, and elsewhere. From 1810 he was engaged as principal engineer—William Alexander Provis was the resident engineer—to construct a highway between the Shropshire county town of Shrewsbury and Holyhead in northwest Wales. It is widely agreed that his masterpiece is the Menai Suspension Bridge (1819–1826), which carries that highway across the Menai Strait, linking Bangor in mainland Wales with the island of Anglesey. It was the first large-scale chain-link suspension bridge and at that time the longest span bridge ever erected.

In 1782 a meeting on Anglesey examined complaints concerning the operation of the ferries at Porthaethwy, Llanfaes, Llanidan, and Abermenai that for centuries had been the only means of crossing the Menai Strait to the Welsh mainland. Increasing traffic across had led to delays and overcharging, and many of the boats were neglected and in dangerously poor condition. Alternatives to the ferries were canvassed, including an embankment and stone or timber bridges. With 4,000 vessels passing through the strait each year, those proposals were met with reasonable objections, and nothing was done. In October 1785 the Irish Mail Coach service was inaugurated between London and Holyhead on Anglesey, where travelers took ship for Ireland. The situation was further exacerbated in 1801, when the Act of Union demanded that Irish members of Parliament travel between Dublin and London, partly via the primitive Holyhead-Shrewsbury road and of course the ferry. Nevertheless, it was not until 1810 that Parliament commissioned Telford to recommend the line for a link across North Wales and Anglesey, including a bridge across the Menai Strait.

Attempts to improve only parts of the existing road were disastrous, so in 1816 Telford was appointed its resident engineer. His 69-mile (110-kilometer) stretch of the 93-mile (150-kilometer) toll highway (now the A5 national road) was probably the best road in Britain. It was up to 40 feet (12 meters) wide, with easy gradients and excellent bridges; moreover, its well-designed construction meant that it could accommodate heavy wagons.

Telford offered three alternative designs for the Menai Strait bridge, and that for a suspension structure was accepted. Finally, after forty years of debate and quibbling, the first stone was laid on 10 August 1819, and in the face of opposition from ferry proprietors and businesspeople in the ferry ports, construction work commenced. Including the approaches