At a point
in time around 4.000 BC a group of Late Stone-Age Sicilian
farming families left their island home to settle in
a small group of islands to the south. They brought
over with them their domestic animals, pottery, hags
of seeds and flint implements.
They were the first Maltese.
In time these early Maltese increased and prospered
and gangs of workers could now lie spared from the day-to-day
chores so that they could give all of their time to
the building of the temples.
The new immigrants were familiar with the use of copper
although the tools they used were still being chipped
out of flint as they had been for thousands of years.
At one time it was believed that the temple builders
succumbed to an invasion of fresh migrants who exterminated,
or enslaved, the original settlers and took over the
land. The invasion theory cannot be entirely ruled out
and still has its adherents-. If there were an invasion,
the new arrivals, which, originally, hailed from the
heel of Italy, would have had no difficulty in overcoming
the remnants of the original stock who colonized the
islands some 2,200 years before.
If the first settlers were peaceful farmers (no trace
of weapons of the period has been discovered) the newcomers
were more belligerent. These bronze-age farmers, there
is some evidence to show that they were also pastoralists,
were less civilized than the folk they had supplanted;
they built no temples but re-used the older, copper-age,
temples as cemeteries; their dead were' cremated within
the walls and the ashes were deposited in the ruins
of the once hallowed buildings.
The bronze-age farmers were not allowed to enjoy their
islands in peace because after some 600 years of their
arrival a new wave of bronze-using warriors invaded
the land, and this time it was definitely an invasion,
and made it their home. This event took place around
1,200 BC. Imitating their warlike predecessors, they
established their settlements in easily defensible positions.
The last of the three ages of antiquity - the Iron Age
- is represented in the Maltese Islands by the remains
of a single settlement at Bahrija (circa 900 BC).