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sunnuntai 25. syyskuuta 2016

Malta, Cool Facts #144

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1. Malta's Ancient Megalithic Temples 

The megalithic temples on Gozo island in Malta are among the oldest free-standing structures in the world. The temples were built between 4000BC and 2500BC or more precisely around 3500BC. 

The temple rituals included animal sacrifice and the tentative information suggests that the sacrifices were made to the goddess of fertility. The culture that built the temples disappeared from Malta around 2500BC. 

The people who created the temples were probably the Sicani people from Sicily. They were the first settlers of the islands around 5200BC and they grew cereals, raised livestock and worshiped a fertility figure like many other ancient Mediterranean cultures. 

Temples: 
Ggantija
Hagar Qim
Mnajdra

Ggantija back wall
2. Ancient Empires in Malta 

Phoenicians
The Phoenicians were a sea-faring culture trading a lot in the Mediterranean. The Phoenicians used the island as a stop on their trade routes from the Mediterranean to Cornwall in Great Britain. The Phoenicians started inhabiting the island alongside the local population. In 332BC Phoenicia fell and Malta fell under the control of Carthage.

Map of Phoenicia and its trade routes
Carthage
During the Carthaginian period the people on Malta mainly cultivated olives and carob and produced textiles. Carthage and Rome fought the Punic Wars against each other and in the First Punic War Rome conquered Malta for a short time during the war. Carthage lost Malta permanently to Rome after the Second Punic War in 218BC.

Carthaginian Empire in 264BC
Roman Empire
In the Roman Empire Malta became a Foederata Civitas, which meant that it didn't pay tribute or follow the Roman law. Malta fell within the jurisdiction of the province of Sicily. The Punic influence remained in Malta and the Romanization of the islands were slow. When Rome was divided in 395, Malta following Sicily fell under the control of the West Roman Empire.

Roman Empire in 117

3. Paul the Apostle in Malta 

In the year 58 Paul the Apostle and Luke the Evangelist were shipwrecked in Malta.

58 Paul the Apostle and Luke the Evangelist were shipwrecked at Malta and for three months Paul the Apostle preached about Christian faith, which has since thrived on Malta.

Paul the Apostle

4. Establishment of Valletta in 1566

Knights of Malta 
In 1530, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor gave the islands to the Knights Hospitaller, who became known as the Knights of Malta. These knights had been driven out of Rhodes by the Ottoman Empire in 1522. The Knights of Malta paid an annual tribute of one single Maltese Falcon for the perpetual lease of the islands.

Great Siege of Malta in 1565
In 1565 the Knights of Malta withstood the Great Siege of Malta by the Ottomans. The knights were victorious and repelled the attack with the help of Spanish and Maltese forces. The Knights decided to increase Malta's fortifications after the siege, especially the inner-harbor area, where the new city of Valletta was built. The city was named after the Frenchman Jean Parisot de Valette, who was the Grand Master of the Order at the time.



The Siege of Malta in 1565 
The Siege of Malta

5. George Cross in the Flag 


What ? 
The George Cross is presented in the upper left corner of the Maltan flag. The award is unique because it's usually awarded for individuals and only twice the award has been given collectively, the other being the Royal Ulster Constabulary in 1999. The George Cross is awarded only for acts of the greatest heroism or the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger. 

How did Malta get the George Cross ? 
King George VI awarded the George Cross to Malta in 1942 during the Second World War. Malta was bombarded by Italian and German air forces because Malta was on a strategic location in the Mediterranean close to the areas controlled by the Axis powers. The bravery of the Maltese people during the Siege of Malta was the crucial reason for the award. Britain's credibility would have suffered if Malta had surrendered so that's why King George VI gave the award to Malta.

George Cross symbol
The silver award depicts Saint George slaying a dragon while riding his horse. The text on the award says: "For Gallantry". The speciality of the Maltan flag is that it bears the insignia of a foreign power.

George Cross (National War Museum, Malta)
Bomb damage in Valletta during the Second World War
Timeline

5200BC Stone Age hunters or farmers from Sicily were thought to be the first settlers of the Maltese islands
2500BC The Maltese islands were depopulated for several decades before the arrival of a new influx of Bronze Age immigrants, who were thought to have arrived from Sicily as well
1000BC Phoenicians and in the following centuries the Greek and Carthaginians established settlements and trade posts on the islands
332BC After the fall of Phoenicia Malta came under the rule of Carthage, a former Phoenician colony
264BC First Punic War, Rome managed to conquer Malta for a short while during the war
218BC Second Punic War, Rome conquered the Maltese islands from Carthage
58 Paul the Apostle and Luke the Evangelist were shipwrecked in Malta and for three months Paul the Apostle preached about Christian faith, which has since thrived on Malta
395 Malta following Sicily fell under the control of the Western Roman Empire after the division of the Roman Empire
454-464 The islands were ruled by the Vandals
464-533 The islands were ruled by the Ostrogoths
533 Belisarius reunited the Maltese islands under the Byzantine rule 
870 Muslim invaders looted and pillaged the islands, destroying important buildings and leaving it practically uninhabited
1048-1049 The Maltese islands were recolonized by the Muslims from Sicily
1091 The Normans captured Malta from the Muslims with King Roger I of Sicily as their leader, Malta became part of the newly formed Kingdom of Sicily
1194-1266 Malta formed part of the Holy Roman Empire as it was part of the Sicilian Kingdom ruled by the Hohenstaufen dynasty
1224 A mass expulsion of Arabs and at the same time the entire Christian male population of Celano was deported to Malta the same year
1249 Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor ordered that all remaining Muslims must be expelled from Malta or converted into Christianity
1282-1409 House of Barcelona, an Aragonese dynasty ruled Malta
1409 Malta passed on to the Crown of Aragon
1530 Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor gave the Maltese islands to the Knights Hospitaller, which later became known as the military religious order Knights of Malta
1565 The knights withstood the Great Siege of Malta by the Ottomans 
1675 About 11,000 people out of 60,000 died of plague in Malta
1798 Napoleon ended the Knights' reign in Malta capturing the island on his way to Egypt
1800 The Maltese leaders had asked for British protection and this year the French troops surrendered
1814 Malta became officially part of the British Empire part of the Treaty of Paris
1915-1918 First World War, Malta became known as the Nurse of the Mediterranean due to the large number of wounded soldiers who were accommodated on the island
1940s Second World War, Malta was bombarded by German and Italian forces because it was a British colony situated close to areas controlled by the Axis powers
1947 Malta got autonomy
1964 Malta became independent from Great Britain
1974 Malta was declared a republic replacing Queen Elizabeth II with the president as the head of state
1979 Great Britain had to abandon its naval base in Malta
1980 Malta adopted a policy of neutrality
2004 Malta joined the European Union 

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