book cover

H 210 x W 148 mm

106 pages

41 figs. in black & white

Published Dec 2017

Archaeopress Archaeology


Paperback: 9781784916954

Digital: 9781784916961

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Religion; Ritual; Malta; Maltese islands; Mediterranean; Stone; Sculpture; Betyl; Cult; Worship; Prehistory; Roman

Elements of Continuity

Stone Cult in the Maltese Islands

By George Azzopardi

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The stones dealt with in this study are non-figural (or aniconic) or, sometimes, semi-figural. They come from ritual contexts and, as such, act as a material representation of divine presence in their role as betyls. The Maltese islands are presented as a case study to demonstrate the phenomenon of continuity through a study of these stones.



Preface; 1.0 Introduction; 1.1 Aims and methodology; 1.2 Defining and identifying sacred stones; 1.3 Earliest known literary and iconographic evidence; 2.0 Stone cult in prehistoric Malta and Gozo; 2.1 Aniconic cults in relation to figurine-based cults in prehistoric Malta; 3.0 Tripillar shrines or altars; 4.0 Betyl amulets?; 5.0 More betyls from Tas-Silġ; 6.0 Stone worship at Ras il-Wardija, in Gozo; 7.0 A pair of ‘twin’ betyls; 8.0 A gilded betyl in the temple of Proserpina at Mtarfa; 9.0 Conclusion; Appendix I; Appendix II; Appendix III; Appendix IV; Bibliography; General Index

About the Author

George Azzopardi is a practising archaeologist hailing from the island of Gozo and is quite familiar with the site. His main research interests focus on the Classical period with the phenomenon of continuity as a marked backdrop. In line with this view, he directed his recent research on religious activity in Classical times as being often in continuity from earlier – sometimes, even prehistoric – traditions or inspired from earlier sources. To this effect, human history is seen as a continuum with hardly any identifiable beginnings or intervals.