10 Mysteries Of Ancient Malta

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10 Mysteries Of Ancient Malta



At just 313 square kilometers (121 mi2), Malta is one of the world’s smallest and most densely populated countries. This Mediterranean island is also home to the world’s oldest freestanding structures and enduring mysteries.

Inhabited for over 7,000 years, Malta has been settled by Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, the Muslim Emirate of Sicily, and Crusaders under the Holy Roman Empire. The history of mysterious Malta is the history of the entire Mediterranean—and beyond.

10Cippi Of Melqart


Photo credit: Ancient Origins

In 1694, the Knights of St. John discovered two ornamental pillars known as the Cippi of Melqart in the village of Marsaxlokk. The pillars contained engravings that allowed linguists to unlock the ancient and mysterious Phoenician language.

The cippi honored Melqart, the Phoenician god of life and death. Around 500 BC, the Greeks began to associate Melqart with their own Hercules. The Greeks and Phoenicians joined forces to build a Maltese temple honoring Hercules/Melqart at the Tas-Silg site where the Cippi of Melqart were discovered.

The Cippi of Melqart were carved into white marble and stand 1 meter (3.5 ft) high. Like most ornamental pillars, these contain inscriptions: three lines of Greek text and four lines of Phoenician. The cippi’s hidden message, an ode to Melqart, was finally translated by a French archaeologist in 1758. The Cippi of Melqart were undoubtedly the key to unlocking the Phoenician language.


9Temple Of The Giants


Photo credit: BoneA

Malta’s megaliths are older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids. These supersized temples date to between 5500 and 2500 BC. The date of the structures was surmised through radiocarbon dating of human remains and pottery found in the vicinity. Located on the island of Gozo, Ggantija is the oldest freestanding structure anywhere in the world. According to legend,giants built the massive structure.

First excavated in 1827, the Ggantija temples sit on the Xaghra plateau facing southeast. Massive limestone blocks compose the exterior. Slabs reaching 8 meters (26 ft) covered this edifice. The interior walls are made of rough limestone chunks. It is likely that these jagged walls were once smoothed over with clay and a thin coat of lime plaster.

8Phoenician Shipwreck


Photo credit: sci-news.com

Off the coast of Malta, archaeologists discovered a 2,700-year-old Phoenician shipwreck. Not only is this the oldest shipwreck in the central Mediterranean, but its cargo hold is nearly intact.

Divers spotted the wreck in 120 meters (390 ft) of water about 1.6 kilometers (1 mi) off the coast of Gozo. Based on the ship’s cargo, experts believe that the ship was en route to Sicily when it sank. Researchers are not revealing the exact location of the site.

So far, more than 50 amphorae and nearly two dozen 35-kilogram (77 lb) grinding stones have been recovered. There are seven types of amphorae, suggesting that the ship had traveled to several ports before its ill-fated final voyage.

The Phoenicians’ homeland was in modern-day Lebanon. However, their trading empire stretched across the Mediterranean. The key to their success was mastery of the sea. Precious little is known about these mysterious ancient merchants.


7Mysterious Cart Ruts


Photo credit: Amusing Planet

Malta is home to mysterious “cart ruts.” These networks of enigmatic parallel tracks cut across the island’s limestone and appear to be man-made. No one knows how the ruts got there. Some run off sheer rock faces. Others appear underwater. A common theory is that they were a system for catching water.

Most of the cart ruts date to the Bronze Age around 200 BC when Sicilian settlers came to Malta. One theory proposes that the ruts began when early inhabitants moved massive objects via carts and sleds. These modes of transport would cut through the topsoil, leaving furrows that grew deeper through the years.

It is unlikely that the ruts were used to irrigate. Parallel channels would serve no function in that regard. Cart ruts near Dingli Cliffs support the load-bearing sled theory because many lead directly to a rock quarry.

6Temple People Of Malta


Photo credit: Ancient Origins

For a little over a millennium, Malta’s Temple people covered their small island with over 30 stone temple complexes. This culture developed in complete isolation. The more it advanced, the more extreme it became, seeming to ignore all influence from the outside world.

The temple complexes contain ritual and burial sites along with hundreds of statues. How this advanced culture developed is an enigma; so is its sudden disappearance.

The Temple people were not wiped out by invasion, disease, or famine. Yet around 2900 BC, they vanished. We are left without written documents to reconstruct their past.

Isotope analysis of human remains revealed that they consumed mostly meat and vegetables. Strangely for an island people, they had very little seafood in their diet. Some theorize that rapid climate change ended the era of the Temple people. But more research is required to prove this.

5College Catacombs


Photo credit: timesofmalta.com

While extending the fields of St. Paul Missionary College, workers discovered ancient catacombs. They contained the remains of at least eight individuals, including a baby. The immaculate remains were completely undisturbed by grave robbers. The chambers were hand-chiseled from stone. For infants, there were burial shelves, which were miniature tombs that had been plastered shut.

The identity of the dead remains a mystery. Calling them “Maltese” would be wrong as this identity is a modern one. The catacombs date back 2,000 years to the Roman Empire.

However, the location and contents of the tombs suggest that the region was transitioning from a Carthaginian colony to a Roman province. A large Jewish population—as well as various other merchants and colonists—also existed on Malta two millennia ago.


4Vandalized Megaliths Of Mnajdra


Photo credit: Sudika

Mnajdra temple complex is located on Malta’s isolated and rugged southern coast. The site dates back to 3600 BC. The most striking element of the temple complex is the attention that its builders paid to astronomy.

Builders sought to harmonize the location with celestial activity. The entrance to the south temple is decorated with large stone blocks containing hundreds of drilled depressions. The doorway and the decorated blocks mark the equinoxes and the solstices.

In 2000, vandals toppled roughly 60 megaliths from the Mnajdra temple complex. Most suspect migratory bird hunters who use ancient stones to build huts. Vandals cut through the fence that secures the site.

In 2009, experts decided to cover the site with Teflon-coated tents. The covering protects the ancient site from the harsh weather and salt air, which steadily degrade the rock construction.

3Temple Of The Unknown Fertility Cult


Photo credit: Hamelin de Guettelet

The Neolithic temple complex of Hagar Qim hints at a mysterious Maltese fertility cult. First excavated in 1839, the complex contains a central structure and two outlying buildings. A series of C-shaped rooms, known as apses, give the site structure.

During the summer solstice, the rising Sun’s rays penetrate the sanctuary through an elliptical hole cut from one particular apse and illuminate the lower stones. Combined with the array of fertility statues discovered here, archaeologists theorize that Hagar Qim was a location of ancient reproductive rites.

The ancient fertility temple was active between 3600 and 3200 BC. Several clay and stone statues of androgynous obese figures and fat ladies have been recovered from Hagar Qim. Two stone altars hint at ancient rites once performed here. The limestone construction has stood for millennia. However, modern environmental conditions are beginning to rapidly erode the structure, which is now protected under tents.

2Paleochristian Catacombs


Photo credit: maltatoday.com.mt

The Ta’ Bistra catacombs reflect a comingling of Christianity, Judaism, and paganism. Fist excavated in 1891, the burial chambers have long since been looted. The Knights of St. John were in the habit of granting treasure hunting licenses.

Located in Mosta, these catacombs date back 1,700 years. The style was adapted from earlier Maltese rock-cut tombs of the Phoenician and Hellenistic periods. The complex consists of 16 chambers cut into the vertical face of the ridge near St. Paul’s Bay.

The hypogea (chambers) are decorated with scallop shells, spirals, arched shelves, and tables. The site is 90 meters (295 ft) long and contains 57 tombs, which are believed to be part of a much larger catacomb system.

After the site was initially excavated, a farmhouse was built over a large portion of the site. Experts believe that the house has probably caused significant damage to the location.

1110 Hz Healing


Photo credit: Ancient Origins

Malta’s Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni is believed to be the oldest underground temple in the world. Dating back 5,000 years, this subterranean sanctuary is notable for its unique acoustics.

Many equate being in the hypogeum with standing under a giant bell. Specific pitches resonate in flesh and bone as much as the ear. With sounds coming from unknown sources, the underground temple transfixes an audience.

Maltese composer Ruben Zahra and an Italian team discovered that sounds within the hypogeum reverberate at 110 Hz. This pitch sensitivity has also been detected at other ancient sites like Ireland’s New Grange.

A 2008 UCLA study revealed that pitches at 110 Hz shift brain activity in the prefrontal cortex. The result is a decrease in linguistic activity and an increase in emotional processing. It is unknown whether the room’s dimensions or its construction have more of an impact on the sound generated. Many mysteries about the hypogeum remain.

Abraham Rinquist is the executive director of the Winooski, Vermont, branch of the Helen Hartness Flanders Folklore Society. He is the coauthor of Codex Exotica andSong-Catcher: The Adventures of Blackwater Jukebox.

10 Shocking Scientology Conspiracies

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10 Shocking Scientology Conspiracies



Scientology doesn’t take criticism lightly. Since L. Ron Hubbard first established his religion, it’s had its share of dissenters, and it’s struck back every time. They have a whole group called the Office of Special Affairs dedicated to organizing these strikes, and they’ve worked to infiltrate and influence everything from our media to our government.

10Operation Snow White


Photo credit: Wikimedia

The largest domestic espionage campaign ever conducted against the American government came from the Church of Scientology. It started in 1967, when the IRS revoked Scientology’s tax-exempt status, ruling that the church wasn’t legitimate and “operated for the benefit of L. Ron Hubbard and his family.”

The church refused to pay up. They began a massive campaign to find information on the IRS to use it against them. They planted bugs in the IRS conference room. They sent undercover agents to get jobs at the IRS so that they could steal and copy government documents.

By 1977, Scientologist George Bennett Wolfe was caught using a fake ID to get into a courthouse, where he stole and made copies of thousands of government documents. Over the next few years, 11 more Scientologist agents were caught committing similar crimes, arrested, and jailed.

9The Takeover Of Clearwater, Florida


Photo credit: Wikimedia

When the Church of Scientology set themselves up in the town of Clearwater, Florida, they had big plans. According to an expose by the St. Petersburg Times, they wanted to take over the whole city.

The St. Petersburg Times released a report in 1980, revealing that the church had been spying on the mayor and trying to infiltrate the police to gain power in the city. Above all, they were trying to shut down anyone criticized them.

The paper reprinted letters written by L. Ron Hubbard himself, outlining how the church dealt with anyone who criticized them. His instructions read:

“1) Spot who is attacking us
2) Start investigating them promptly for felonies or worse using our own professionals, not outside agencies
3) Double curve our reply by saying we welcome an investigation of them
4) Start feeding lurid, blood, sex, crime actual evidence on the attackers to the press”

8The Cult Awareness Network Buy-Out


Photo credit: Wikimedia

There was a time when the Cult Awareness Network took 16,000 calls every day, coaching and supporting worried families who had lost loved ones to unorthodox religions. They worked for 20 years, helping people and trying to expose religions that operated for profit, which put them squarely in the path against Scientology.

The church launched 50 separate lawsuits against them on every charge they could think of. Most were thrown out of court, but one finally landed, and the Cult Awareness Network was forced to pay $2 million.

After the Cult Awareness Network filed for bankruptcy, Scientology and bought them out. Today, any statement from them is from the church of Scientology in disguise and is propaganda crafted to glorify the church.

7Spying On The Creators Of South Park


Photo credit: Comedy Central

A lot of people first realized how strange Scientology’s ideas were when South Park played them out on the screen. An internal letter from the Office of Special Affairs, released by former member Mark Rathbun, asked for “viable strings that can be pulled” against the show’s creators. They listed friends of Matt Stone and Trey Parker and discussed plans to pull every public record on them. According to Rathbun, some of the codes in the letter even meant they planned to scavenge through their trash, phone records, and bank records.

They already had a plan in motion to blackmail Matt Stone. “There are some strings that will be pulled on the PRC on Stone,” the letter said.

6Removing Criticism From The Internet


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Former Scientologist Tory Christman claims the Office of Special Affairs has a whole team dedicated to nothing but removing or refuting every piece of criticism against the church they can find on the Internet.

“I worked with someone who used five separate computers, five separate anonymous identities,” she claims, “to refute any facts from the Internet about the Church of Scientology.”

The church has been caught using multiple accounts to aggressively and repeatedly edit Wikipedia articles to remove criticism and add positive comments about the church. It got so bad that the Wikipedia had to ban Scientologists from editing articles.

5Spreading Lies About Former Members


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Bonnie Woods left the church of Scientology in 1982 with a bitter taste in her mouth. She wasn’t happy with what she’d experienced, and she was afraid to tell people about what the church did.

The church didn’t like it. They launched an entire campaign against one woman, including having her trailed by private investigators and publishing a leaflet calling her a “hate campaigner” who tried to force people to leave the church.

Woods finally sued the church, and they responded with three lawsuits of their own against her. Woods won, but it took until 1999, 18 years after leaving the church, to get justice.

4Tricking People Into Donating Money


Photo credit: undercovertourist.com

Just last year, actress Jenna Elfman was invited to come to Legoland to light their Christmas tree. Eflman was happy to oblige, and she wouldn’t accept a penny for her work. Instead, all she asked was for Lego to donate $10,000 to a charity called the Youth for Human Rights Group.

The Youth for Human Rights Group doesn’t have anything to do with human rights. They are a front for Scientology, a religion whose human rights concerns are a little hard to believe given that former members have accused them of running a child slavery ring.

The group, instead, is meant to spread Scientology. “All organizations and groups form a global network,” says a document released by the government of Hamburg. “All service organizations have the goal to draw attention to L.Ron Hubbard’s technology and deliver it to the public.”

3Using Celebrities To Silence News Stories


Photo credit: A&E

Actress Leah Remini, from the CBS show King of Queens, has revealed that she was asked by the church to use her influence to squash a news report against the church on 60 Minutes. She claims that Tom Cruise personally called her and told her to make CBS stop the story.

Presumably, they expected Remini to threaten to quit the show if they played the report. Remini, though, was a little too uncomfortable with the job to push it, and the CEO of CBS, Leslie Moonves, had heard it before. “You’re not the only one who has called me about this,” he told her, “and I will absolutely not engage this conversation.”

CBS ran the story anyway, and Remini was blamed for failing to censor it.

2Lawsuits To Stop Book Releases


Photo credit: St. Martin’s Press

The critics of Scientology aren’t just detached, armchair activists who know nothing about the religion. Some of them are the closest people associated to it. That includes leader David Miscavige’s family. Both his niece and his own father, Ron Miscavige, have written books exposing the church.

Ron Miscavige’s book, Ruthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige, and Me, claims that his son is lying about being having been appointed head by L. Ron Hubbard, accusing him instead of having seized power. It accuses the church of confining members in appalling conditions, subjecting them to deprivation and violence in the Hole, and of a whole lot more.

David was furious, and he threatened to sue his own father to try to keep the book from coming out. The lawsuit failed, though, and Ron Miscavige’s book is in bookstores today.

1Planting A Secret Scientologist Senator


Photo credit: gpo.gov

The Church of Scientology wants more influence, and they’re ready to do what it takes to get it. They’ve even tried to install their own senator into the American political system.

David Jolly ran for the Republican seat in the senate in Clearwater, Florida. During his campaign, he called himself a Christian, but there’s a lot of reason to think it’s a lie. This was a man who received donations from Scientologists and attended their rallies and fundraisers, sometimes as a guest of honor.

His campaign deliberately scrubbed the Internet of as many references to his association to Scientology as they could, trying to keep the world from realizing they were voting for a senator deeply linked to the church. They were caught red-handed, though, and Jolly was forced to drop out of the race.

10 People Who Held Bizarre Positions In Royal Courts

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10 People Who Held Bizarre Positions In Royal Courts



Often, people think of royal courts as being refined and dignified, but some of the members of such courts have been coarse, vulgar, and rude. Others have had to perform unpleasant, even disgusting, roles. Some have even had to sacrifice themselves or parts of themselves. Here are 10 people who held bizarre positions in royal courts.

10Will Somers


Photo credit: Delaram, Francis

England’s King Henry VIII installed Will Somers as his court jester, or fool, in 1525. Like other court jesters, Somers enjoyed great leeway in what he could say, and he always cloaked his sharp observations in humor and wit.

According to Robert Armin, Somers saw the juggler, Thomas, carrying milk and bread and asked the king for a spoon. The king had none, and Thomas advised the fool to use his hand. Somers replied with a verse:

This bit, Harry, I give to thee,
And this next bit must serve for me,
Both which I’ll eat apace.
This bit, Madam, unto you,
And this bit I myself eat now,
And the rest upon thy face.

As he recited the last line, Somers threw milk in Thomas’s face. The juggler fled the room, never to return.

Once, Somers called Queen Anne Boleyn a “ribald” (a lewd woman) and Princess Elizabeth “a bastard.” Although King Henry VIII threatened to kill Somers, the king relented and the fool continued in the monarch’s service until the king’s death.


9Archibald Armstrong


Photo credit: historyextra.com

Archibald (“Archy”) Armstrong, the fool of England’s King James I, was allowed to make quips freely without fear of retribution until he finally went too far. Openly belligerent toward Archbishop Laud, Armstrong once interrupted the archbishop while he was saying grace.

Armstrong interjected an insulting play on words: “Great praise be given to God and little Laud to the Devil.” “Laud” means “praise.” But as it was also the name of the archbishop, Armstrong was suggesting that the Devil deserved little praise and the august clergyman should be damned.

Armstrong continued to verbally lambaste the archbishop until his victim demanded that the fool be dismissed from the court and the jester wasreplaced by a new fool.



Photo credit: Jan Matejko

The court jester for Polish kings Alexander, Sigismund the Old, and Sigismund Augustus, Stanczyk was a thoughtful, gifted satirist who used his wit to lampoon the political situation of his day. Apparently, he was also a shrewd political analyst and a wise student of international affairs.

In Jan Matejko’s painting (pictured above), the fool is slumped alone in a chair. He wears a jester’s cap and red clothing. Crestfallen, he muses upon a report that the Russians have captured Smolensk.

Ironically, the king and the courtiers, partying at the 1514 royal ball, are oblivious to the fact that the Russians will soon control Poland. Only Stanczyk, the downcast fool, envisions the horrors soon to come.


7Nigel Roder


Photo credit: BBC

When England’s King Charles I lost his head in 1649, his fool lost his job. Oliver Cromwell abolished the position, and there were no more jesters in England until 2004. At that time, professional juggler Kester the Jester (Nigel Roder) won a contest of wits against six competitors and earned the title of State Jester.

Judges chose Roder during a history festival at Stoneleigh in Warwickshire. During summer 2005, he performed throughout England at all the events of English Heritage, a charity that manages English historic sites.

Not all fools were happy with the contest, though. The National Guild of Jesters claimed that the contest offered scant notice so that “professionals” were unable “to apply.”

6Hugh Denys


Photo credit: Lobsterthermidor

The most disgusting duties performed by any member of the royal court were those executed by the groom of the king’s close stool (aka “groom of the stool“). The word “stool” refers to a portable potty for his majesty’s exclusive use. It might be a velvet-covered pine box with a hinged lid, a wooden box fitted with drawers, or a modified chair with an upholstered seat and back.

Often a person of noble birth, the groom was responsible for assisting the king in his performance of the “bodily functions of excretion and ablution,” which included “monitoring [the king’s] bowel movements,” assisting him with his diet, scheduling courtly events so they wouldn’t interfere with toilet visits, and wiping the royal bottom.

England’s King Henry VII’s groom of the stool, Hugh Denys of Osterley, was perhaps the first such member of the royal court. Over time, the groom became the king’s confidant. The groom even advised the king concerning affairs of state and the heart.

5Sir William Compton And Sir Henry Norris


King Henry VIII’s groom of the stool, Sir William Compton, was kept busier than most as the king’s gluttonous appetite necessitated frequent visits to the toilet. Compton was also “responsible for the king’s linen and clothing, his jewelry and tableware,” and “for looking after several of the royal manors.”

In addition, Compton procured women to satisfy the monarch’s enormous sexual appetite and arranged the king’s schedule to accommodate his affairs. With his influence, Compton enriched himself by accepting money for favors.

Grooms performed delicate roles, politically as well as personally, as shown by Compton’s successor, Sir Henry Norris. When Norris threw his support behind Anne Boleyn and she was executed, Norris was charged with treasonand his head was lopped off as well.


4Sarah Churchill


Photo credit: Charles Jervas

Later, the title of groom of the stool was changed to “groom of the stole” to reflect the groom’s responsibilities for assisting the king in dressing. Queens had female grooms.

Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, was one of the ladies who performed the groom’s services for England’s Queen Anne. Although the groom and queen had been fast friends since childhood, they parted company when Churchill sought to dominate and control the queen.

Churchill became jealous of her cousin, Abigail Hill, after the queen made Hill her lady of the bedchamber and Hill took a suite of rooms that Churchill had regarded as hers. Further damaging her friendship with the queen, the groom insisted, against Anne’s wishes, that the queen move from Kensington Palace to St. James’s Palace after the death of her husband in October 1708. Churchill also removed a portrait of Anne’s late husband from the queen’s bedchamber and refused to return it upon Anne’s request.

Finally, the queen severed her relationship with Churchill.



Photo credit: captmondo.com

Eunuchs also served as members of the courts in Middle Eastern and Asian realms and empires. Born a slave, the eunuch Eutropius was given by his master, Arnithus, to Arinthus’s daughter. She eventually dismissed Eutropius, who was left to wander about Constantinople in poverty. A court officer then installed Eutropius as a low-ranking imperial chamberlain.

Over time, Eutropius attained great influence as the chief chamberlain and adviser to Emperor Arcadius. By selling his influence, Eutropius amassed a personal fortune. As Arcadius increasingly retired from public life, the former slave ruled the empire behind the scenes.

When Roman troops revolted, Gainas, a Goth in command of Constantinople’s troops, called for Eutropius’s banishment. Empress Eudoxia supported Eutropius’s exile. At first, he was given sanctuary in the Church. A few days later, however, Eutropius left the Church and was captured. He was tried for various crimes and subsequently beheaded.

2Liu Jin


Photo credit: Wikia

The Ming dynasty’s Zhengde emperor of China was notorious for his folly and cruelty. He was also mad. He led his troops on impulsive missions and issued commands to “an imaginary double,” General Zhu Shou.

In addition, at the outset of his reign, the emperor gave charge of the empire’s affairs of state to a eunuch, Liu Jin, with whom he quarreled five years later. Consequently, the emperor ordered that the eunuch be sliced up, slowly, over a period of three days. Liu Jin didn’t make it that long, dying on the second day of the prolonged torture.

1William Murray


Photo credit: David Paton

Another bizarre position at the royal court was that of whipping boy. No one but the king himself was permitted to punish the prince. Since the king was unavailable most of the time, the position of whipping boy was instituted.

A boy would be raised with the prince so that the youths became close friends. Then, if the prince was rebellious or mischievous, his companion would be beaten. It was presumed that this would make the prince suffer emotionally as he witnessed his innocent friend’s punishment.

Of noble birth, the whipping boy lived in the royal palace as a child and enjoyed the same luxuries as the prince. William Murray, who served as the whipping boy for England’s King Charles I, was well rewarded when Charles became king. In 1643, the king made his lifelong friend the first Earl of Dysart.

Gary Pullman lives south of Area 51, which, according to his family and friends, explains “a lot.” His 2016 urban fantasy novel, A Whole World Full of Hurt, was published by The Wild Rose Press. An instructor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, he writes several blogs, including “Chillers and Thrillers: A Blog on the Theory and Practice of Writing Horror Fiction” and “Nightmare Novels and Other Tales of Terror.”

Video: 10 Sea Creatures That Belong On An Alien Planet

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Video: 10 Sea Creatures That Belong On An Alien Planet



We take it for granted that there are millions of unearthly creatures floating around our planet. At some point, science jumped into the back seat of creation and let nightmarish curiosity drive for awhile. But even among the world’s most bizarre creatures, there are extremes.

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