The Mġarr phase

First of all, many apologies for the lack of posts. My faithful laptop decided to go kaboom approximately 10 days before my new one was ready (still waiting… dear Apple, hurry up please!). Fortunately, I had a lot of stuff backed up. Unfortunately, I also lost over a week’s worth of work and have been frantically catching up since. Someone explain to me why it’s taken twice the time to catch up with a week’s worth of work! I wonder if temple builders felt the same when things didn’t go according to plan. Anyway, normal blogging service can now resume (hopefully!).

Speaking of temples. Last time I wrote about the Żebbuġ phase, the next phase is the Mġarr phase – also named after a type site/area. The dates are 3800-3600 BC. Still no temples at this point – it’s described as a transitory phase but it did last 200 years, so that’s quite a few generations of people. In terms of pottery, we do see an evolution from the earlier phase, but I think this just highlights the dangers of seeing people purely in terms of pots. A typical Mġarr phase narrative takes into account the pots (apparently a natural evolution and the pots anticipate those from the subsequent phase). This is true, and we do mostly have pots to go by (and some tombs at Xemxija and a hut at Skorba). The pottery does indeed show all this, but it doesn’t tell us much about the people. Neither does it explain why temples crop up in the next phase.

We are of course hampered by lack of material, especially settlements. What is certain, however, that people did not remain suspended in time for 200 years, evolving pot types and anticipating new trends. Burial remained collective, at least some people continued to live in huts (and villages) and artefacts are still covered with red ochre. Symbolic behaviour is thus very much present, but very hard to define. Just “a transitional phase” neither explains how people lived nor how and why they eventually decided to build temples.


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