At the same time as the expansion of the agro-pastoral tradition across Europe, we see in Malta the emergence of a unique culture built not around self-sustaining agriculture, but a religious economy. As difficult as it might seem to the modern mind to imagine, this site in Malta was one of the first great regional sites of the world – perhaps even more important than Stonehenge, with which it has parallels. People came from afar by boat to visit one of the temples, to experience dreams/visions bringing them closer to the ancestral world. How exactly the various temples worked is not known, but particularly noteworthy is that the temples were designed with models – actual small models – in mind. What this modeling served is not known. This can be related to the ‘model’ culture of Egypt, in order to question the notion of architectural ‘origins.’ It is often thought that architecture begins with the desire to protect oneself from the elements. This is an Enlightenment fantasy that has no real relevance in the ancient world. The better explanation appears to be that architecture begins as a model – as a scaling down (Malta) or a scaling up (Egypt).
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