The Maltese Cave Entrance
The Maltese Cave entrance is on the island of Malta. This island is the largest of a group of three islands, in the sea that divides Europe from Africa, the Mediterranean. The little Maltese islands lay well off the coast of a much larger island, Sicily, halfway between the Libyan seaport of Tripoli and Calabria of Italy's Calabrese people who are located in the toe of the bootlike formation of Italy.
The three Maltese islands are composed of Gozo, Comino and Malta. They represent one of the smallest archipelagoes in the world, survivors of those remote days when continents were of a different shape. Those pre-cataclysm days when Atlantis and Mu may have existed, the days when there was a land bridge between Europe and Africa. Those days when the entire Mediterranean area was merely a series of large lakes.
Malta is the principle island of the three. It reaches a width of almost nine miles, while it is all of 17½ miles in length. Gozo is not as long as Malta is wide and Comino is almost a dot which separates them. Comino has at times boasted of a total population of 50 people.
Malta is the most southern island, 180 miles from the African coast. It was an ancient center of civilization at the time when the Phoenicians from Carthage invaded and began to rule it. At that time blood sacrifice was not new to the Maltese and they readily accepted the priests of Moloch as another name for "Baal," the Sun or Fire God. These priests offered up human sacrifice to their god, one who rejoiced in the sacrifice of human victims and the outcries of the victims' parents.
Since the time of the Carthaginians, Malta has had many rulers: Romans, Arabs, Normans, Aragonese, Castilians. Then France ruled the island for a short time before it became the British possession it now is.
However, with all this varied history, and regardless of the many nations who ruled them, the people of those islands still speak the ancient Canaanite, Semitic tongue, the speech of the Phoenicians, and the mother tongue of Queen Dido, who was the founder of Carthage. Malta was the birthplace of Carthage's most famous citizen, the man who made Rome tremble at the height of his power: Hannibalone of the world's greatest generals.
On the northeast shore of Malta there are a number of large bays. One of these is known as Grand Harbor. This bay has a point of land extending into it upon which the capital of the Maltese Islands, the city of Valletta, is built. A few miles inland from this town toward the south, overlooking the plain which leads to the shore, is a large plateau known as the Corradino. The little village of Casal Paula is built on this plateau, and from the village one can view Valletta, Grand Harbour, the plain leading to it, and also look out to the sea.
In this small village of Casal Paula during the year 1902 workmen, who were digging a well, literally fell into the earth. They had once again uncovered the outer room of the Maltese Cave entrance. Since the well was to be dug for a house which was on the main street named "Hal Saflieni," and because this first cave was later discovered to be complex of caves, three of which were a series of chambers excavated out of solid rock on three even lower levels for each chamber, this entrance is known as the "Hypogeum of Hal Saflienti." A hypogeum is the Latin name for an underground structure.
Later this series of underground rooms was discovered to have been located in the middle of an ancient neolithic village. From the construction of the entrance stones, it is now assumed that at certain times a human sacrifice was chained before the entrance. The entrance and the walls and ceilings of some of the passageways and rooms have been found to be decorated with red ochre primitive art designs, but when first discovered the three caves were crammed with as many as 30,000 skeletons of men, woman, and children. After all these bones were cleared out, the primitive murals were discovered. They took the forms of diamond shapes, as well as oblated and elongated ovals, all of which were joined together with wavy lines and whirls. These decorations had been created solely from the application of red ochre, by the most primitive of methods.
Once past the entrance, a narrow passageway leads down into the first room. It is in this room, that the "Oracle" may be found. The Oracle is a hemispherical hole in the wall, a which is lower than the mouth of an ordinary-sized man. It is about two feet in diameter, and one can speak into it. A curved projection carved out of the back of the cave then acts as a sounding board. The voice is amplified and caused to resound throughout all the other caves. It creates an effect which must have frightened the primitives into sacrificing many of the members of their tribe to the being who spoe with the "Voice of God."
If you continue down through the narrow and low passageways, you come to another room. The center of this room has a circular stone altar with runnels on it, the use of which can only be guessed at. Carved in the walls of this room are many niches, the bases of which are like bunk beds. They have hollows scooped out for the heads and bodies, as well as the feet of four-foot-high individuals and some are even smaller.
Leading downward from this room is a small, narrow passageway, ending in another even larger underground room, which has narrow slit-like entrances into other small caves which surround it. One opening, however, is a window into another cave, the entrance to which is covered by a huge slab of stone. This window looks down into what was evidently a prison, but how beings only four feet tall were able to manipulate the huge stone slab must remain a mystery.
An opening in the wall opposite the entrance to this cave leads to a passage narrow and torturous, the entrance to the real caves. This passage ends on a pathway which extends along the side of a vast cleft in the earth, a pathway along the edge of a veritable chasm, a pathway which leads ever downward to the long underground tunnels and series of caves which are reputed to allow one to traverse the entire length of the island and even further.
Legend has it that these passageways at one time connected with the underground crypts from which the Catacombs of Rome were created. This may very well be true; for the reader must remember that the Mediterranean Sea was created after neolithic times by eathquakes and the shifting of the earth's crust. Therefore, while the ancient tunnels may have existed, they might have been closed by cataclysms of this type, with the knowledge of them coming down to us only in legends.
The tunnels under the "Hypogeum" have been sealed off ever since a school teacher took 30 students into the caves and disapeared, guide and all. It was stated that the walls caved in on them. Search parties were never able to locate any trace of these people.
It has been asserted that for weeks the wailing and screaming of children was heard underground in different parts of the island, but no one could locate the source of the sound. If the walls caved in, why the cave-in could not be found and excavated to free the children remains a mystery.
How the children could live to scream for weeks later is another involved puzzle. At any rate, the underground entrance to the caves in Malta has been sealed off, and nobody is allowed to investigate the site.
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