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  • Writer's pictureLaura

Hypogeum of Ħal Saflieni

Date: 3300 – 2500 BCE

Period: Neolithic

Phase: Saflieni

Location: Paola, Malta

Access: Public museum managed by Heritage Malta


Site details

Hypogeum of Ħal Saflieni is a necropolis and temple on three levels which once had an above ground megalithic entrance. It's thought it was used as both a burial site and for rituals similar to the temples.


  • Finely carved room imitating the facade of a temple called the 'Holy of Holies'

  • Red ochre spirals on the ceiling

  • Black and white checkboard wall painting

  • Niche referred to as the 'oracle hole'

  • Sound resonates at a frequency known to have an affect on brain activity

  • Funnel shaped deep pit


  • Eleven skulls

  • Human bones

  • Pottery

  • Plate decorated with bull horns

  • 'Sleeping lady' figurine

  • Lady on a couch figurine


  • Unknown

Interesting facts

When the Hypogeum was first excavated the archaeologists referred to the skulls as dolichocephalic or long-headed. Modern science has dismissed this since the parameters for measuring crania have changed.

Nearly all the bones were found piled up and disarticulated so it's possible it was used as a secondary burial site.

No bones or other finds were excavated from the lowest level.

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