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Mediterranean Island: The Mysterious Disappearance Of An Ancient Civilization

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The Mystery of Ancient Mediterranean Civilization

In the center of the Mediterranean, there is an unremarkable tiny country-Malta, which consists of 3 small islands. As a country, Malta is indeed small, but its history of civilization is surprisingly old and splendid. The numerous megalithic temples in its territory are testimonies to its glorious past. The oldest of these megalithic temples is about 5500 years old. , Which is older than the oldest pyramid in ancient Egypt.

It can be said that the ancient remains of Malta are quite rich, covering almost all ages from the Neolithic to the modern age, but archaeologists have also discovered a strange phenomenon, that is, the civilization on the island is intermittent, that is to say, a The civilization disappeared after a period of existence, and another new civilization appeared after a period of time. For example, the first group of residents came to Malta in about 5900 BC, and the descendants of these residents moved away hundreds of years later; the second group of residents only appeared after about 1,000 years. The reasons for the disappearance of civilizations vary, and what has most puzzled archaeologists is the disappearance of the civilization created by the second batch of residents.

The second group of inhabitants of Malta are the founders of the megalithic temple civilization on the island, and they are one of the most important group of inhabitants on the island. Around 3850 BC, they came from Sicily and built magnificent and exquisite megalithic temples on the island. These temples are one of the oldest surviving buildings in the world today. In the heyday of the Maltese megalithic temple civilization, the island may have been inhabited by thousands of people, far more densely than other settlements on the European continent at that time. But after being active for more than 1,500 years, this civilization disappeared for some reason in just a hundred years or so. Recently, an international research team seems to have solved this mystery that has plagued archaeologists for many years.

Struggle with the natural environment

Today, various sites can be seen on the surface of Malta, but more ancient information is hidden underground. In view of the shortage of resources in Malta, especially freshwater resources, there is little arable land on the island. Researchers hope to find information from the stratum that can restore that period of history. They drilled sediments from the formations about 8-30 meters deep in Malta and used carbon dating to determine the age of the sediments.

Through the analysis of the sediments from the corresponding age, the researchers found that although the same farmers are farmers, the second batch of residents are more "professional" than the first batch of residents. The study found that after the first group of residents came to the island, in less than 100 years, they cut down most of the trees on the island. Their farming methods severely damaged the local environment, which is why they quickly The main reason for being "ejected" from Malta by nature.

Although the second group of residents also reclaimed wasteland, they also raised herbivorous livestock. They cleverly combined agricultural planting and animal husbandry, mixing livestock manure into the soil, and enriching the soil. In addition, in order to prevent over-breeding of livestock from damaging the vegetation on the island, they usually eat them before they reach the age of grazing.


Not only that, the researchers also found some traces of ancient ruts in the valleys on the island, which were formed by repeated rolling. After research, they believe that this is the trace left by the second batch of Maltese residents transporting the soil washed into the valley to the high ground. This shows that the second batch of Maltese residents already know how to keep the local natural environment in balance.


However, by counting and analyzing the types of pollen in the sediments, the researchers found that just a few centuries after the second batch of inhabitants of Malta settled down, the pollen in the soil gradually decreased, and there were fewer tree remains in the sediments. This shows that the vegetation on the ground began to decrease at that time. Researchers also conducted chemical analysis on some individual pollen grains, and learned that the parent plants of these pollen grains had reduced nutrients absorbed from the soil. Based on this, the researchers speculated that despite the tremendous efforts made by people at that time, soil depletion occurred irreversibly, and the increasingly harsh environmental conditions may make it no longer suitable for human life.

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Threats from outsiders

So, is Malta’s megalithic temple civilization really destroyed by nature? Combined with other studies conducted at the same time, the researchers believe that the harsh environment is not the only cause of the collapse of the Maltese Megalithic Temple civilization.

Researchers analyzed the aDNA of tens of thousands of human skeletons found on the island to understand the lifestyle of the islanders. aDNA is ancient DNA, which refers to DNA obtained from ancient specimens, biological remains, and paleontological fossils. Although aDNA may be contaminated, a relatively complete DNA can be extracted from a relatively well-preserved sample. For human bones, researchers have found that as long as human bones are buried in a cooler place 5 meters below the ground, useful aDNA can be extracted from the thick bones behind the skull ears.

Research on human bones in the last few hundred years of the megalithic temple civilization shows that these people have malnutrition, and the situation becomes more serious in the later stages. In addition, the researchers also found some special human bones in these strata. DNA testing showed that these people came from the Eurasian steppes and sub-Saharan Africa. Not the descendants of the second batch of inhabitants of Malta, but outsiders.


These findings mean that there may have been food shortages in Malta at that time. In addition to the deterioration of the environment, it may also be due to the influx of foreign populations, which made the competition for survival resources on the island intensified. In addition, the emergence of foreign populations may also bring new diseases, which is undoubtedly a huge threat to the residents who have lived in Malta for thousands of years, and they may not be able to resist the attacks of these diseases.


In this way, in addition to environmental factors, human factors may also be one of the reasons for the collapse of the Maltese Megalithic Temple civilization.


Ultimate blow


From the above research, the deterioration of natural conditions, the influx of foreign populations, and the threat of disease have indeed shaken the megalithic temple civilization in Malta. However, the researchers believe that these are not the direct causes of the rapid disappearance of the Maltese megalithic temple civilization in a hundred years. By analyzing the composition of the stratum and the tree rings, they found that in about 2350 BC, Malta was hit by a catastrophic climate change. This disaster caused dramatic changes in the Maltese environment and was no longer suitable for humans. survive.


As for what kind of climate disaster it was, it remains to be studied, but from the available information, the disaster was quite violent and may be related to the volcanic eruption.


Through these studies, we can basically understand why the Maltese megalithic temple civilization, which was glorious for 1500 years, collapsed. However, for researchers, the significance of these studies is not only to understand the civilization history of Malta, but also to understand in more detail how the fragile island ecology can sustain humans for a long time under conditions of drought, violent storms and soil erosion. Life, and the reason why humans failed to challenge the island to survive.


In the longer term, understanding the ecosystem of the past will also inspire us to find a way to restore the ecology that has been destroyed by ourselves.


Let's Protect Our Nature.

ChubbyBimal (author) on May 22, 2021:

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