The mysteries of an ancient civilization that survived for more than a millennium on the island of Malta—and then collapsed within two generations—have been unravelled by archaeologists who analysed pollen buried deep within the earth and ancient DNA from skulls and bones.
It’s part of a field of work that is expanding the use of archaeological techniques into environments where they were previously thought to be unusable.
The Temple Culture of the Maltese archipelago in the Mediterranean began nearly 6,000 years ago and at its height probably numbered several thousand people—far denser than the people of mainland Europe could manage at the time. The island people constructed elaborate sacred sites, such as the famous Ġgantija temple complex, and their buildings are among the earliest free-standing buildings known.
But, after 1,500 years, they were gone. Read more.