Tas-Silġ is a rounded hilltop overlooking Marsaxlokk Bay. It is a multi-period sanctuary site covering all eras from Neolithic to the fourth century AD, and due to this it indicates to archaeologists several different layers of excavation.
The area was first inhabited when a temple was built in the Tarxien phase of Maltese prehistory, sometime around 3000 to 2500 BC. Few remains from the original temple can be seen, but the scatter of megaliths over the hill suggests that there was a large complex with at least 3 temples and possibly a village surrounding it. A D-shaped setting of large blocks that was part of the four-apsed temple still exists as it was later incorporated into the other buildings on the site. In the Bronze Age, the temple was probably converted into a settlement, as had been done in other sites such as Borġ in-Nadur.
In the deepest layer of deposits, archaeologists found various artifacts including pottery, lithics, and a standing fat lady. From the Bronze Age layer, some sherds, stone tools and pottery were found. Other evidence from the Bronze Age consists of the large amount of handiwork.
After the Phoenicians took over Malta in around 700 BC, they built a Punic temple to Astarte incorporating upstanding remains of the earlier temple. A forward extension was added to the curved facade, and a monumental doorway flanked with two pilasters and topped by a huge stone slab was built. The sanctuary"s importance eventually grew and a portico was added around 300 BC. Some parts of the temple, including a tower, might have been designed as a fortification to help defend it from possible invaders.
A threshold slab pierced by three libation holes that divided the eastern part of the temple and the western side, as well as a series of ashlar foundation walls for a platform built to the south of the main sanctuary still exist. Around this area, various remains were found including pottery, ash, animal bones, coins and shreds. Some of these shreds have votive inscriptions. It is claimed that the Cippi of Melqart might have originally been at the Tas-Silġ temple, but their origin is disputed.
In the Roman era, the Punic temple was converted into a sanctuary of Juno, which was the Roman equivalent to Astarte. In 70 BC, Cicero mentioned the temple in his Verrine Orations, in which he said that the temple was revered by everyone including pirates and Numidian princes, but the Roman Governor of Sicily had stolen some of its treasures. Some Roman material was discovered in various deposits around a well in the lower terrace of Tas-Silġ.
Large water storage areas under Tas-Silġ were recently found and mapped, and they probably date to the Punic or Roman eras.
Later on, in the 4th or 5th centuries AD, a Byzantine monastery were built over the remains of the previous temples. The church had a central nave separated from the aisles by two rows of columns, and a small baptismal font was constructed in what was originally the megalithic temple. Some remains of sculpture were found, including a worn female marble head and an ivory capital with a hanging palmette. Pottery from this period was also found, including amphorae and locally made plates and other items.
During the Byzantine period, it may be that the fat lady was deliberately defaced and buried in a hollow.
In the 8th century, defensive walls were hastily built around the monastery at Tas-Silġ.
The monastery was abandoned soon after the Arabs occupied Malta in 870 AD. The site was turned into a quarry and stones from the original structure were removed. In the medieval period farms were built on the area, and rubble walls from this era still exist. The whole site was buried under a metre of soil before being excavated.References:
The Palazzo Colonna is a palatial block of buildings built in part over ruins of an old Roman Serapeum, and has belonged to the prestigious Colonna family for over twenty generations.
The first part of the palace dates from the 13th century, and tradition holds that the building hosted Dante in his visit to Rome. The first documentary mention notes that the property hosted Cardinal Giovanni and Giacomo Colonna in the 13th century. It was also home to Cardinal Oddone Colonna before he ascended to the papacy as Martin V (1417–1431).
With his passing, the palace was sacked during feuds, and the main property passed into the hands of the Della Rovere family. It returned to the Colonna family when Marcantonio I Colonna married Lucrezia Gara Franciotti Della Rovere, the niece of pope Julius II. The Colonna"s alliance to the Habsburg power, likely protected the palace from looting during the Sack of Rome (1527).
Starting with Filippo Colonna (1578–1639) many changes have refurbished and create a unitary complex around a central garden. Architects including Girolamo Rainaldi and Paolo Marucelli labored on specific projects. Only in the 17th and 18th centuries were the main facades completed. Much of this design was completed by Antonio del Grande (including the grand gallery), and Girolamo Fontana (decoration of gallery). In the 18th century, the long low facade designed by Nicola Michetti with later additions by Paolo Posi with taller corner blocks (facing Piazza Apostoli) was constructed recalls earlier structures resembling a fortification.
The main gallery (completed 1703) and the masterful Colonna art collection was acquired after 1650 by both the cardinal Girolamo I Colonna and his nephew the Connestabile Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna and includes works by Lorenzo Monaco, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Palma the Elder, Salviati, Bronzino, Tintoretto, Pietro da Cortona, Annibale Carracci (painting of The Beaneater), Guercino, Francesco Albani, Muziano and Guido Reni. Ceiling frescoes by Filippo Gherardi, Giovanni Coli, Sebastiano Ricci, and Giuseppe Bartolomeo Chiari celebrate the role of Marcantonio II Colonna in the battle of Lepanto (1571). The gallery is open to the public on Saturday mornings.
The older wing of the complex known as the Princess Isabelle"s apartments, but once housing Martin V"s library and palace, contains frescoes by Pinturicchio, Antonio Tempesta, Crescenzio Onofri, Giacinto Gimignani, and Carlo Cesi. It contains a collection of landscapes and genre scenes by painters like Gaspard Dughet, Caspar Van Wittel (Vanvitelli), and Jan Brueghel the Elder.
Along with the possessions of the Doria-Pamphilij and Pallavacini-Rospigliosi families, this is one of the largest private art collections in Rome.