Revel Barker book signing for new release on the people who built Ggantija

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Revel Barker book signing for new release on the people who built ?gantijaThis Wednesday, Ghajnsielem author Revel Barker will be signing copies of his latest book at the Harbour Craft studio, 8th September Street, Xaghra, Gozo, at 7pm.

The First Gozitans (… and Ggantija) is the title of Barker’s latest book because, according to the author, the people who built the world-famous monuments are deserving of just as much recognition as the structures they built.

He pointed out that they existed, as a number of small and relatively isolated communities, for two thousand years or more before the decision was made to build Ggantija.

“But why did they build it? There is no evidence that they worshipped any God,” says Mr Barker. “If they suddenly found one, where did they get the idea that they needed to build and attend a ‘temple’ in order to communicate with it?”

Church attendance, the author said, is a relatively recent tradition. “The first Christians, for example, used to meet in each other’s houses. The early Gozitans could have done the same.”

Yet more astonishing, he says, is that they decided at the start to build a monument that would last for ever – and take for ever, to build.

“They excavated the largest rocks they could find on the island – giant stones that would each take 50 strong men to move even a short distance – and that were about a mile away from the site. How did they move them? How did they lift them?”Asks Mr Barker.

“The first Gozitans were farmers. They needed to take time off from their near-subsistence farming to help with the building. It must have been impossible for whoever was in charge of construction to know how many people would volunteer their time and their effort on any given day.”

The author remarked that at some early stage it must have occurred to the builders that they would not live to see the completion of the monument they were so carefully building.

“In fact the same realisation must have been obvious to succeeding generations – for construction would take more than a thousand years, starting around 3600BC (before the pyramids, before Stonehenge), and was not even finished when work on it was suddenly and inexplicably abandoned, about 2500BC.”

“How was their enthusiasm maintained, to work on a project that they knew they would never see ending?”

Mr Barker said that the first Gozitans had learnt to sail, and probably been taught basic navigation before they had set off into the unknown from Sicily. They had turned an island of scrubland and stone-covered earth and a few forests into working farmland.

“They started building, first, with twigs and clay, then they invented clay bricks and built houses with them. Then – and, importantly, nobody else that they were aware of had done it before – they started building with bricks,” he said.

“They invented damp-proofing, a form of concrete, plastering, columns, drainage and sloping roofs while the rest of Europe was living in caves or houses built of twigs and moss. They built a boat that could carry cattle, sheep, goats and pigs, a veritable Noah’s Ark.

“These people were intelligent, inquisitive, acquisitive, artistic and astonishingly inventive,” says Revel Barker. “Conditioned by the isolated but socially stable environment into which they had placed themselves they discovered a creative genius that has amazed, and puzzled, the world. Nobody told them how to do any of it, because nobody had done anything like it before.”

The First Gozitans (and Ggantija) will be available this week on the Gozo ferries and at all good bookshops in Malta and Gozo, or, with free postage worldwide, from the Book Depository.

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    1 Response

    1. Anthony Zammit says:

      Erich von Däniken the author of Chariots of the Gods, was recently on a lightning visit in Malta, intent on re-visiting some of Malta’s own mystery sites. This celebrated and controversial writer who clinched world-wide recognition back in 1968 with his first bestseller The Chariots of the Gods, was recently on a lightning visit in Malta, intent on re-visiting some of Malta’s own mystery sites.

      He is reported to have said “I try to prove that extra terrestrial beings were here on earth once. In turn I believe that ancient peoples looked up to these beings as being superior to mankind; gods which descended from the skies. When they departed back to their planets, people on earth kept hoping that they would return. Their stories were handed down to future generations who developed them. Needless to say, even Pizarro was considered a god by the people of Peru! It all boils down to mankind’s confusion of god and extra terrestrial beings.” Von Daniken insists that the expectation of these gods’ return fueled man’s imagination and even today many religions, including Christianity, believe in this idea that a god will one day return to earth to redeem his followers. Or was it an extra terrestrial?

      These very controversial claims come from a man who was raised a Catholic and who still insists on being so. “I never lost my God, and am still one of those people who pray. In Switzerland, I attended a Jesuit school and as a young boy was obliged to translate the bible from Greek to Latin to German. It was what fueled my deep belief in God.”

      But reading deeper, he was confused to find references that brought forth a different sort of God – one requesting grand shows of power. “I thought that if God was so omnipotent, what need was there for shows of power? What need was there of human assistance to be heard and noticed by humans?” This led him to read ancient literature and apocryphic texts such as the Book of Enoch. He was confused by references to sexual contact between gods and human females, the outcome of which were giants. Was there a link with the Egyptian hieroglyphics that showed half man/half beast? Or the Greek references to the Minotaur perhaps?”

      Coming to Malta once every eight years on average, means Von Däniken has found other important mysteries to fascinate him– the cart ruts and the temples. “I believe the temples are even older than Maltese archaeologists believe. As regards the cart ruts – there is no satisfying explanation to those. When I visit here, I bring a group of similarly interested people – learned people from different walks of life but mostly professionals. We visit these sacred sites and discuss them deeply.”
      Please save me a book, I want to read what our friend Mr. Barker said.

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