Following the Red Skorba phase (4400-4100 BCE),[1] the Żebbuġ phase (4100-3700 BCE)[2] brings to an end the long period of exclusive village settlement in prehistoric Malta[1] and introduces a new period culminating in the extensive megalithic constructions seen throughout the Maltese islands.[2] The Żebbuġ phase led to the Mġarr phase (3800-3600 BCE).[2]


File:Photo Ellis Hal Salflieni.jpg

The appearance of Żebbuġ Ware towards the end of the Fifth Millennium BCE marks a major break with tradition and may represent a further influx of people.[2] However, there is continuity in other aspects of the local culture such as architecture and sculpture. Decoration is prolific and includes painted designs (red on a cream colored slip), grooves infilled with white paste and incised patterns, including anthropomorphic designs.[2]

The most significant cultural development of this period was the introduction of formal burials in rock-cut chamber tombs and a further elaboration of the cultural customs and cult activities;[1] a difference between purely domestic buildings and ritual space was maintained by means of specifically constructed buildings which came to include the Skorba Temples and the subterranean Hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni. From the Żebbuġ phase onwards a clear demarcation was made between the everyday domestic and ritual spaces' surface monuments and underground cemeteries were to follow distinct evolutionary trajectories.[1]


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