Probably hailing from a Neolithic settlement in Sicily, the first colonising farmers imported knowledge of cultivating cereals and rearing animals.
c4100 – 2500BC.
This period is known as the Temple Phase because of the extraordinary architecture which characterizes it. The megalithic temples, besides their religious function as centres of worship, could have been centres of redistribution of commodities particularly grain. Artefacts related to the grinding of seeds are immediate indicators of man’s marriage with grain as a means for survival.
c2500 – 725BC.
Sparse evidence from the Bronze Age period includes some carbonized grains and several mortars. This evidence indicates continuation in the preparation of types of porridge and the baking of unleavened bread.
Archaeological evidence dating from c.5000 B.C. indicates early human presence in Malta. These early Neolithic farmers were probably of a southern Sicilian origin. Research indicates the cultivation of wheat, barley and lentils supported by the domestication of animals such as goats, sheep and pigs. Evidence suggests that these natural cave dwellers also settle in sparsely populated hamlets.
The Temple period (c.4000-2500 B.C.) was marked by the significant stone architectural structures. Endowed with remarkable relief sculptures and interesting designs, the temples probably reflected a prosperous agrarian primitive society with deeply rooted religious beliefs. These structures, besides their religious function as centres of worship, could have been centres of redistribution of commodities. Basically, the considerable amount of saddle querns, shallow hard stone mortars and other hand mills found within these locations could have served as part of a centralised servicing system of crushing seeds, especially grain. The temple might be seen as the place where the community would present sizeable parts of their agricultural produce as offerings to the divinity. Representations of birds, fowl and quadrupeds in sculpture and pottery found in these religious structures further support the relationship of food and religion especially if associated with sacrificial rituals. Evidence suggests that this culture came to an abrupt end around 2500 B.C.
The Bronze Age phase (c.2500-725 B.C.) was mainly characterized by war-like people who employed copper and bronze tools and weapons. Some archaeological evidence indicates that late Bronze Age settlers seem to have established links with Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations. Similar to their predecessors, these settlers employed an agricultural activity based on cultivating crops and rearing animals.