In 2005, I visited the island nation of Malta with a group of women artists and academics who wanted to see the great megalith temples and attend an archaeological conference led by the lead archaeologist on the Malta megaliths, Donald Trump (and that is a nice elder British man, not the spooky one from the TV shows! ). The Temple Culture of Malta existed between 3600 B.C. and 2500 B.C., when the island was mysteriously abandoned. Only after 500 years, in 2000 B.C., a new people arrived with a new culture. These also created megalith structures, but these were more like the stonehenges known all over Western Europe. The elder Temple Culture created enormous, round-angled, labyrinthine three-storey temples, painted white on the outside and red on the inside. Imagining what it must have felt like when the temples were roofed and painted, it could have been something like a huge womb. Some of the temples are clearly aligned with the solstices and equinoxes, designed to let the rising sun shine straight into the inner sanctuary on these dates.
Contemporary archaeologists are extremely cautious about drawing conclusions about these people´s beliefs and culture, as we really do not know much about them, but even so, Trump himself confirmed that it seemed likely that they worshipped a great goddess, due to the numerous statues of powerful looking females, some up to three meters tall, found in the temples.
I have a couple of observations. Inside the temples, there was usually a large stone bench, big enough for a person to lie down on. There are at least two figurines showing women lying on such stone benches (as if they are sleeping or dreaming – or having visions or out-of -body experiences?) which could certainly testify to some sort of practice by priestesses or oracles within the temples.
Also, Trump and his archaology disciples were severely opposed to the idea that the religion of Malta could have any connection to a larger goddess-oriented Stone Age religion in Europe. However, the archaeogist Marija Gimbutas showed that the goddess iconography in Malta actually did share numerous features with other European traditions. I am just showing one example here:
The first image is from the temple of Hagar Qim, Malta, showing a pregnant woman figurine with particular symbols painted on her.
The second image is much older, as old as 6300 B.C., and was found in Thessaly, Greece. As one can easily see, the iconography is identical. Coincidence?
The third image is from former Yugoslavia, dating to 4500 BC, Vinca culture.
These images are in themselves not enough proof to say that the religion of Malta was related to a goddess oriented religion on the European continent (if one such religion existed), but are only one of numerous examples of similar iconography which should be taken seriously and scrutinized. It would seem that all those who fervently refuse to even look into such comparative archaeology are in some sort of denial based on an unwillingness to acknowledge a more universal culture in Stone Age Europe than is usually presumed, especially when this culture seems to have regarded women and/or goddesses as central to their spiritual life.