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Phonelobster Accurately Describes Maltese History

 
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PhoneLobster
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2013 2:46 pm    Post subject: Phonelobster Accurately Describes Maltese History Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Malta : A not very brief history
Have you ever heard of the Island of Malta, odds are you have and you didn't notice.

Have you ever SEEN the Island of Malta, the answer is you have but you may not know it.
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Have you BEEN to the island of Malta? The answer is you ha... no wait OK maybe that is stretching it...

A deeply personal and touching history by Phonelobster
See, I'm an Australian, which explains a lot of that Australia thread from that time. But my ancestry, well hell, my dad, is Maltese.

Well, half my ancestry. The OTHER half is probably long time Welsh/Irish Australian that might well go as far back as white settlement, but which almost all rapidly ends in mysterious dead ends if you try and trace it back, with the furthest being I think, a great grandpa who was found as a mysteriously abandoned baby on a passenger ferry my (adoptive) great great grandpa was a captain of. There is some speculation that my orphan baby great grandpa was actually my not so orphan baby great grand uncle and it was just traditional “oops I pretend to lose him/oops I pretend to find him” internal family baby swapping popular at the time to balance the excessively childless with the excessively childed, But now we will never know...

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ANYWAY, the half of my family that HAS an interesting history/culture that we know any damn thing about is the Maltese half. And THAT half has been traced back to the earliest written records on Malta. Which is a long fucking time. There is a reason for that, but more on it later... back to the less personal stuff for a bit...

Where the fuck is Malta?
Are you familiar with the Mediterranean sea? Well that's where Malta is. Right in the middle. The VERY VERY MIDDLE. As in the center. It's like... halfway between Spain and Turkey and halfway between Sicily and Africa.

What the hell is it?
Malta is basically three large limestone rocks people call islands and live on. They are Malta (the big one with the capital), Gozo (the other one with the fancy sea cave) and Comino (The smaller one right in between that is now largely abandoned except for just a small exclusive resort or something)

What is it like?
It's a great tourist location, and a favorite of the English ever since the war, these days pretty popular with Germans too.

If Malta were an RPG setting what would it be?
HORROR! Paradise/ancient terror/corrupt bureaucratic/secret societies/cult terror.
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PhoneLobster
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2013 2:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Malta, the Deep deep prehistory...
Before humanity Malta was at some point formed. It is lime stone. So that means it is formed from COUNTLESS CORPSES of tiny sea shelled life forms. I repeat the island itself is MADE OF COUNTLESS CORPSES. No really. It is. And on top of that... not all that much else, it really IS basically just a big ass lime stone rock there's just a bit of dirt, the odd bush, and some people on it, with houses and junk.

Presumably Malta was there when, at some point, the straights of Gibraltar basically opened up and the Atlantic ocean rushed in and flooded the Mediterranean sea into existence around it. Isolating the island. And presumably a bunch of the ancient mega fauna that were there.

Yes, Malta had Megafauna. That tiny rock was crowded with dwarf elephants, hairy rhinos and other super ancient mammoth era bullshit. We know this in large part due to various lime stone caves full of fossil bones from the period. And not just a little full. But literally PACKED with fossil bones from the period, like super dense bone to bone with barely any mud in between floor to ceiling, of some relatively big ass caves. I guess the island was trying to feed up on some extra calcium made up of even more countless corpses.

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Another notable part of Maltese pre pre pre history, is that time there was a big ass earthquake and over half of the island SPLIT OFF AND SANK INTO THE SEA. Seriously, more than half the island is missing, you can go look at the cliff's where it just... isn't anymore...

Maltese Prehistory Now With Added Humans
Lets start with this. Malta contains the OLDEST BUILDINGS IN EUROPE. Older than the great pyramids even.

But anyway. Humans rocked up to the island in the Neolithic phase some time around 7000 years ago approximately 5000 BC. Apparently they could see it from Sicily and "land pressure" pushed them out there to farm. Well, considering the way the Sicilians and Maltese hate each other, if you went with the Sicilian version odds are it's more like "And as soon as there was an inkling of the idea of civilization they banished all the jerks to those tiny islands they could barely see because no way was that going ahead with the Maltese hanging around the place".

So... these guys hang around the place making pottery and doing the early mother goddess worship thing that leaves those funky little statues and hey, while we know next to nothing about the somewhat similar culture throughout Europe at the time, Malta is pretty much bread and butter regular mother goddess neolithic Europe.

But it's an Isolated island and it takes them about a mere 900 years to start diverging into the "Temple Period" when things start to get funky.

The Megalithic Temple Builders
So the temple builder history phases have some kick ass names. Lets just rapidly run through in order to show of the names.

Żebbuġ, Mġarr, Ggantija, Saflieni, Tarxien. No really those are the names, and better yet they are basically names of TOWNS in malta where various important archeological sites relating to those era's are.

Over all the temple builder period spans from around 4100 BC to 2500 BC, that's like wow, 1600 years there. But really for us laymen we might break it up into two main periods.

Ggantija and everything before it. Basically the typical mother goddess neolithics start out with increasingly curvy pottery with more swirls and “abstract humanoid figures” (very abstract, appear to be missing heads, on head sized jars) is burried in ceremonial rock cut tombs. Yes, that's right, the island was hungry for more bones and they FED IT, the fools. Their culture and agriculture took off. Their funeral pottery turned blood red with ochre and more curvey patterns. They started building giant stone temples. Big curvy ones with floor plans shaped like abstract deformed fat female torsos, sometimes with accompanying “child” temples beside them.

Their temples grew bigger and more complex they look a bit like elaborate stone henges, but with more complete walls, and even more impressive when you consider they probably had partial if not, by late period, complete, domed roofs originally. By the early Tarxian period they build a temple which has three altars in various rooms and at sun rise on the solstices and equinoxes it outright LIGHTS UP specific altars depending on which one it is. No bullshit “one misshapen stone kind casts a shadow at 50 degrees during equinox maybe” like the much lamer actual stone henge which isn't even BUILT until something like1500 years later.

So then we throw in the Saflieni and Tarxien as our layman's second later period. Their temples are super advanced, they build CRAP LOADS of them, like 40 or something, that they have found so far, remember this is a TINY island, and also remember some of the older ones are considered THE OLDEST standing stone structures in the world. Their burials start getting more and more elaborate and advanced. They do MASS burials. Over the 300 years of the Saflieni period they construct... the Hypogeum...

The Lost Underground Death Cult
So one day, in relatively recent times, 1902 apparently, some guys are working on some cisterns for a new housing development when they basically fall into an ancient forgotten temple full of human bones. And that, is...

The Hypogeum

Initially it was explored by a Cathollic Priest (so an experienced hand in the underground network full of human remains business) but he died after only 5 years before completing his report. No less than a KNIGHT took over in 1907. But then, that isn't unusual on Malta, Knights run all sorts of important projects out there. No really.

ANYWAY. The Hypogeum is promoted among other things as THE ONLY PREHISTORIC SUBTERRANEAN TEMPLE IN THE WORLD. That's what got in UNESCO status, and since no one else noticed, Malta minted a commemorative 2 cent piece back when they had their own currency to celebrate the listing.

What is really important about the Hypogeum is that it is huge, it was extended over 300 years form some natural caves into an elaborate 3 story deep... something... hell lets just trundle out a cut and paste table describing some portions of its contents for a second here and be amazed...
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Yes they retrieved “sleeping lady” statues. Yes the interior used to be PAINTED RED. Yes there is a side room painted with red spirals and mystery blobs that has “powerful amplifying acoustics”, Yes the decorated room has PETROSOMATOGLYPH of a human hand no less.
YES it has a room they call a mother fucking SNAKE PIT.
YES there is a room that consists largely of megalithic stone henge like doorways... within doorways... within doorways...
YES the third level is arguably the spookiest description of all.

One thing the suspiciously dated and questionable cut and paste description leaves out however is the place was PACKED with human remains.

Now to take a moment of sobriety. Catacombs and Ossuaries are very sensible on a tiny island and hardly anything new... Well. Screw it BACK THEN THEY WERE FUCKING NEW. Not to mention bones from as many as 7000 people were found in this place.

THIS IS NOT THE ONLY MASS UNDERGROUND HUMAN BONE COMPLEX FROM THAT ERA. There are hints that the hypgeum may not be unique (on Malta that is), there might be, or have been, others out there. Undiscovered or destroyed, what they DO know are out there is underground mass burials/underground ossuaries of some form attached to the late Traxian period temples in particular.

YES that is right, the temple builders started out feeding the island bones with individual burials and then started feeding it bones by the THOUSANDS of human individuals at the hieght of their glorious red painted spiral insanity!

And things got insane. The architecture slowly diverged into some sort of missing link between neolithic henges and ancient greek style temples, only completely different from what that would look like because these smooth slabbed stepped domed red ochred megalithic swirl carved wonders never evolved into anything because... well lets get into that in a moment...

But anyway INSANITY! Other than the feeding more and more bones to the lime stone rock islands we have...

The Headless Venus
OK so fertility goddess statues are weird. They are often faceless or have shrunken heads. Certainly the OLDER maltese ones start out pretty familiar, and by the looks of it they kept some of the older images (perhaps literally kept the same ones) as relics in their temples right up to late period, that “Sleeping Lady” is fairly typical, if you ignore the whole sleeping on a couch bit.

BUT. Some of them are of unclear gender. There are a few floating around that are almost definitely male. There is that ONE half of a at some point more than 2 meter tall obese limestone colossus from late period that could readily have been a goddess, god, priest king/queen or mad island emperor or fuck knows what.

One very strong theme though is a mysterious lack of heads on a lot of them. Especially the ones suspected to be your more religious/fertility symbols. SOME suggest they had separate (possibly exchangeable) heads made out of some sort of finer material long since lost. But none have ever been found to my knowledge and even if they were THAT is sorta weird.

What we do have is lots of little headless statuettes of heavily fattened probably female humans. That is spooky. With an upswing of this as the cults swing into full on giant catacombs full of their own private bone collections mode that is SUPER spooky. Sadly there is no direct evidence of human sacrifice or cannibalism, but they DID at the very least engage in probably ritual sacrifice and probably ritual feasting on animals in the temples. Temples which included some pretty big headless goddess statues. With a sorta neck niche just about the right size to comfortably place a severed human or animal head in...

The Extinction of the Temple Builders
We've heard it all before, mad fertility death cult priest king civilisation, spirals into self/death/ceremonial burial obsessed temple building insanity, famine and disease strike, everyone burns down the temples and disperses to try again.

Thing is that MOSTLY happens in Central fucking America. This is the literal middle of the origins of western civilisation here. And that seems to be sort of what happened.

The religion/culture become death/ossuary obsessed probably because the island was hungry and made them feed it bones. Things went a bit pear shaped there is some evidence of disease or famine or something, a bit of a spike in bone collection and... bam... apparently Armageddon.

Overnight the temple builders were gone. Most likely the priest solution to everything was “Moar bone temples for the bone temple gods!” and when that didn't work there is evidence that the temples were burnt by whatever survivors there were as their last act as an organised society of torch and pitchfork wielding rioters.

Though, while it's pretty clear that in most cases in Central America when the corn god died and the civilisation “mysteriously disappeared” everyone who survived the riots basically just wandered off into the jungle until it was time to start building the next death pyramid related culture, in the case of Malta... there is no evidence that the survivors turned up anywhere. One thing is relatively certain, they weren't on Malta anymore.

The temple builders were basically extinct and the island was once again basically unpopulated by about 2500 BC.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2013 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Fuck it, maybe we messed up human prehistory, but we had an early start, so lets try that AGAIN with some new humans
So its like early bronze age, and some new bronze age dudes rock up to the now abandoned island with its now collapsed and destroyed temples full of bones and shit.

They are notable for being your mainstream bronze age culture of the region, and once again, were most probably the ass holes too jerky for the now Bronze Age Sicilians to live with.

This time around they decided to not feed the island and are notable for burning their dead take from that what you will in the context of the relatively recent burning the old temples of a mad death cult. I suggest taking over tones of having learnt lessons about proper undead disposal or something.

They are ALSO notable for a “preoccupation with defending their settlements” building on hills and having walls and such to hide behind. You know PERFECTLY NORMAL behaviours for people colonising a totally abandoned isolated island with no surviving notable predators and totally no undead problem or anything like that.

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Every displaced people ever colonise Malta
OK so me, I'm descended from the Phoenicians. Well. So claims the ancient meaning of the family name. Either that or I'm descended from a small rabbit, the other meaning of the family name. So we generally go wit the “it means Of The Phoenicians” option, since Maltese are hereditary posers, we get that from the Phonecians. Probably.

Malta however DOES appear to have gotten a lot of their stuff from the Phoenicians, including their famous brightly coloured “ahem” fishing boats with big spooky eyes painted on them. And a bunch of names and cultural things and probably some genetics.
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Of course Malta got a lot of OTHER people in it too. So there is a definite relation to the people of Sicily and Italy and a lot of waves of people clearly coming from over there.

So for instance the people of Algeria claim the Maltese are Algerian. Or more specifically that the Maltese AND the Algerians were the same people back when they lived in Aram. Which is somewhere out near Syria, and basically on the way to fleeing to North Africa for some reason they dumped a bunch of their people on a lime stone rock in the middle of the ocean that was alternatively full of spooky abandoned temples or bronze age proto-Phoenician pseudo pirates. Clearly they dropped off the highly suspicious portion of their population.

Also, unsurprisingly, the Maltese are pretty closely related to various tribes in Morocco.

Then there is some bullshit myth about them being some sort of Shepherd tribe from Bethlehem that fled to Malta via Jaffa. But lets just ignore that as the fairly typical Catholic revisionism and take a note that as far as modern Maltese Catholics are concerned their pre history goes “The heathen temple builders died of their sins then good honest god fearing bronze age Catholics moved in around 2000 BC or so and we have been god fearing Catholics ever since and we were NEVER EVER part of at least two islamic empires among other heathens that never conquered us!”

So anyway, we close out the period with Malta being one of the “Punic Colonies” so its like part of the great empire/ trade alliance of Carthage which brings in Carthaginian culture and genetics and a bunch of Berber influence as well. Now Carthage, is, lets remember in the war with super evil Rome were the good guys and who totally fucking lost. Rome destroyed all the colonies and takes over Malta around 400 BC.
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Now having the bone hungry death rock under control of the blood thirsty Romans is probably not the best idea. Who knows if those fuckers were responsibly burning their dead, knowing them the eerie temptation to tunnel out catacombs was totally a thing they did. One thing they apparently DID do was lose a fucking entire Colloseum somewhere on the island.

No really there is a LOST COLLOSEUM on Malta. Somewhere. The place is TINY, but they can't find it, it's referred to and stuff. But, well it's just gone or something, the island ate it. I suggest with no evidence at all the fools probably had some eerie compulsion to build their bloody death arena UNDERGROUND and by now we all know how THAT goes on Malta.

Then Saint god damn Paul rocks up
Anyway a bunch of Roman ruins around the place and then after waiting 2000 years the local Catholics breath a sigh of relief when Saint Paul FINALLY gets ship wrecked in the presciently named “Saint Paul's Bay” around 60 BC and finally converts them all to Catholicism... from er... Catholicism, which they totally were since about 2000 BC or something anyway, honest.

He also uses Malta a a test bed for the whole “Catholic saint turns up on island to convert you all, buy in now and be grateful that he “Drives out all the poisonous snakes” which you totally had, honest” Which is a pity since driving out the poisonous snakes means all the “Snake Pits” in all the underground secret death cult temple complexes are now a touch redundant.

And yes that is 'The Saint Paul” well, OK maybe it isn't, there were a lot of unofficial replicas floating about wrecking on islands and coasts throughout the region, but it's meant to be THE Saint Paul. One of the actual founding figures of Christianity in general, writer (or guy people pretended they were while writing) like half the bible or something, which I gather was mostly him writing letters to the somewhat more “authentic” Early Christians out near Turkey or where ever they were hanging out about how totally fucking wrong they were and about how he and his buddies totally had this knowing the word of god thing sewn up.

So anyway. Damn fool Romans locked him up in a god damn “Grotto” didn't they before sending him on to Rome for his continued and more well known antics. So next thing you know the local Christians through the period of “Roman oppression” then Roman acceptance, then through various islamic occupations, a byzantine occupation and etc... go building Cave Churches all over the damn place.

Lets just consider that. In the context of the mysterious lost prehistoric culture going crazy with a death cult and underground temples, bury piles of human bones in catacombs and red swirly painted walls and goddess worship... in THAT context the Catholics/Christians of Malta did their little thing for the next extended period of time and their thing was... go crazy with death cult underground temples, they built first cave/rock cut individual burials, then they build extensive bone filled elaborate catacombs, some of their cave temples churches were famed for their “beautiful painted walls” including divinely inspired paintings because various lesser saints were having visions of the the fucking Maddona. Fuck it, if she were fat and headless we'd have the full god damn bingo card filled.

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VANDALS! And other conquerors
So Rome holds onto Malta for a paltry 200 years and then Vandals sack it. Rome that is. But the Vandals, who are lets remember from East Germany decide to also go and conquer Roman Africa. And on the way they conquer Malta. Becuase that's just the done thing these days when rampaging across the mediterranean.

So then the Byzantines are “fuck you that spooky island is our stuff” and they reconquer it along with a bunch of other stuff around 100 years later and then they hold it for like 300 years.

THEN the Arabs turned up and invaded, or more specifically the Fatamids on their way to taking over Sicily with the whole Islamic empire thing that is the real predecessor to the end of the dark ages and the rise of the renaissance and all that stuff.

Now those guys rule the islands for 200 years and TOTALLY do not convert anyone to islam or anything. No no, the culture was TOTALLY unaffected, they remained faithful Catholics, ok MAYBE they totally changed most of their place names, OK maybe they adopted a bunch of technology especially in farming and irrigation they still use to this day to make the desert island remotely farmable, OK maybe all the locals look Arab, ok MAYBE all the buildings look Arab. OK so maybe the local language is basically Arabic only more sort of loud and argumentative sounding. BUT THEY REMAINED TOTALLY UNINFLUENCED AND CATHOLIC ITALIAN IN CULTURE AND RELIGION. Totally. Honest, I mean fuck, it was 870 AD they had nearly 3000 years of Catholic tradition behind them.

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ANYWAY Maltese History decides it REALLY doesn't like to focus on Arab Rule, so while the Christian Norman rulers of Sicily only ACTUALLY ran Malta starting around 1194 AD, since the guy who actually conquered it in 1127 had a dad who gave it an honest shot back in 1091 they declare Arab rule over right then and there no backsies.
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2013 2:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The Knights Of Saint John
Anyway the Sicilians rule Malta, for like, 400 years. But really, the Sicilians fucking hate the Maltese and regard them with deep suspicion and stuff. Very possibly to do with large amounts of suspected “amateur” piracy.

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ANYWAY, the Sicilians decide to sell the fucker. To any random Feudal lord who has the cash and an interest in owning a holiday home made out of limestone bone catacombs and almost certainly treacherous pirates.

Oddly it changes hands rather a lot in a mere 400 years. Sold time and again to the rulers of Swabia, Anjou, the Crown of Aragon, the Crown of Castile, and Spain. Somewhere amidst all this “Local nobility” (so either pirates or a grab bag of the more hardy decendents of various lordly representatives who were essentially banished to pirate land) at some point there formed a governing body called the Università. Which I just mention because it's a kick ass name.

Just before (or maybe just a bit after, or sort of during) it's final sale the god damn Barbary Corsairs turn up, sack Gozo and ENSLAVE THE ENTIRE POPULATION, and deport them back to Barbary. No really the ENTIRE population, they don't come back as far as I know either. So that's like the SECOND time the smaller island is totally devoid of human population, again, and basically everyone on Gozo is of “mainlander” Maltese descent, which is hilarious because the Maltese are comically xenophobic and regard people from either side of the mainland as “total animals” and pretty much regard their Gozo cousins as total fucking aliens even through they only even went there like 500 years ago and since it's so damn close haven't even been out of ear shot ever since.

Then at some point the King Of Spain sells the Island to the Knights of Saint John, one of those you know, mad crusader knight warrior cults coming back from the crusades, like the knights templar, VERY much like the infamous Knights Templar. See the Knights of Saint John were in the market for ANY remotely defensible rock going cheap and Malta was kinda a rather desperate last chance budget purchase they got on the cheap for the price of 1 luxury falcon per year to the king of Spain as a rental fee. It's really a bit of a charity sale, King of Spain is convinced that if Malta falls Christian Europe is next, he might well be right, so he sticks a bunch of crazy crusader knights on it AND gets free luxury Falcons every year, BONUS!

Which spawns the whole Maltese Falcon plot because there was this one time they were all like “hahaha we are so awesome now, and we have picked up this local hereditary poseur thing so her have a SOLID GOLD FALCON”, antics ensue, film noire attacks etc...

But anyway, thing is the Knights of Saint John were on the run They had raided the holy lands of wealth, knowledge, technology and probably whatever culty stuff that got the Knight's Templar in so much trouble with mother church. And they picked up something else. Angry enemies.

Their last super fortified rock, the Island of Rhodes, had already fallen to their enemy in 1522, no less than THE great and mighty Suleiman the fucking Magnificent of the totally awesome Ottoman Empire. He did NOT like their “sacred mission” of “aiding pilgrims travelling to and from the holy lands” (read assisting crusader invasions and trying to heal the wounded on their way back).

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Well anyway Suleiman has this totally irrational vendetta and chases them all the way there. Well, that's if you believe the Maltese version and don't in fact blame it on the Knights of Saint John resuming their heavy piracy of Ottoman shipping early development of the ambulance assistance on Ottoman Shipping, Which, let's face it since the Knights who had been practising piracy ambullancing for a few hundred years then suddenly found themselves in possession of an island of people who's piracy legtimate fisherman skills/traditions were well over a couple of thousand years old just like their Arabic Islamic Religion Italian Catholic Religion. So really piracy totally went UP once they had a pile of experienced pirates and about infinity oarsmen doing three year tours for trying to steal a misnamed rock fungus, because pirates legitimate fishermen totally can't keep their hands of expensive magic fungus.

SO anyway, Suleiman comes back and invades. Reduces Fort Saint Elmo to rubble (yes, Saint Elmo), lays down “The Great Siege”. The Maltese go on about their great victory against the insurmountable numbers of the trained Ottoman armies with a mere handful of knights and maltese civilians. I mean really I read that as “The relatively inexperienced Ottoman troops vs battle hardened pirates hiding behind thousand year old paranoid fortifications” so their victory isn't nearly as surprising, but it IS historically significant that the Ottoman's eventually had enough of midnight ship sinkings, catapulted diseased corpses and the Maltese in general and went home.

The knights then went on to found and build a vast fortified new capital on the coast near one of the best, and best situated, harbours in the Mediterranean. They called it “Valleta” and it is the capital to this day. The knights were rich as they had “amassed considerable fortune due to their services in the route to the Holy Land” and totally not because of centuries of Piracy or anything. So they built the biggest and best and probably most advanced fortified city walls EVER. And they are still there looking awesome and largely remaining unused ever since. There are a lot of tunnels and stuff they built down there. However, with the lack of wars and such they never DID get around to filling them with human bones...

Napoleon turns up
The Maltese are rebels by nature so Napolean rocks up and they are all like “we hate these Knights of Saint John Ass holes” and so they revolt kick them out and Napolean sticks around for 6 days and modernises the entire country and it's educational system.

(Oh and Napolean also freed the slaves no less than 2000 “Turkish slaves” the locals were keeping around, they totally didn't steal them, they fell of the back of a sea truck or something).

Then the British rock up and the Maltese say “we hate these French Ass holes!” and there is a revolt and they kick those guys out. The British are supposed to give Malta back by treaty, but hey, being the one who OWNS the pirate infested rock in the middle of the Mediterranean turns out to be largely profitable and strategic if you can handle the constant peasant uprisings. And especially nice once they open the Suez Canal making Malta a major pit stop on the way through the back door to the East from Britain. So they don't.

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Anyway the British dissolve the Università (finally), declare the island free of the Plague (finally), instituted a national anthem and somehow survived about 3 peasant uprisings, food riots, at least 1 church uprising, the dissolution of local government, multiple rejections of attempted constitutions, discovered and sourced the local disease “Malta Fever”, wrote 1 whole poem in the local language (probably a loud argumentative poem), and all in time for Malta to proceed to call itself “The Mediterranean's Nurse” during world war 1 due to services to it's own ego.
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2013 3:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

World War II
Was not so nice to the island. Indeed it was during world war 2 that Malta became the most bombed place on earth at one point 6700 tons of bombs were dropped in 3 weeks.

The Maltese however “minimised human casualties” by, yep, you guessed it, burrowing underground and putting everyone in spooky catacombs air raid shelters.
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We totally didn't steal these here fighter planes
They like, fell off the back of a sea truck or something.

You see. The British were doing badly in the war, and Malta was royally screwed as they saw it, so they decided to pull out.

Seems that somehow in a typical Maltese act of piracy minor colonial bureaucratic mishap several unassembled fighter air craft and related supplies were entirely accidentally NOT loaded onto the leaving British ships.

So anyway they rush built an airfield and the planes were a major part of the islands limited defences as it managed to somehow hold out against the Germans and Italians. Probably fuelled only by raw hatred of the Sicilians.

Anyway, Island holds out then like Roosevelt, Churchill and King George the VI all literally turn up and give the island awards before everyone invades Sicily using Malta as a staging point. (Yes that is the King George the VI who replaced the guy who abdicated to marry a widower who was mentioned back in the Australia thread)

After the war malta is “fuck you British empire we're revolting this time for sure” and there was general administrative chaos. The island NEARLY ended up the ONLY “fully integrated” British colony with it's own members in the British house of parliament and junk, which freaked both the British and the Maltese out (one more rightly so than the other) and the whole thing led to various dissolutions of local government right up until get this, something called “The Blood Commission” in 1961, and eventuallly blah blah independent state under the british monarchy in 1964, and a republic by 1974.

1974 is also get this, the year they finally abolished all titles of nobility on the island. Yes, 1974. Yes that was pretty recent. But still, the Knights of Saint John are actually STILL hanging around. Even if they aren't in any way landed nobility any more.

Anyway blah blah blah...

Then they joined the EU
So political chaos, corruption, melodrama. And Malta joins the EU. This is mildly hilarious. Because Malta is a corrupt banana republic with laws made out of spit and bribery ignored by a populace made up of wannabe pirates legitimate modern business people.

And the EU has rules. Like “no garbage within X km of the Sea” which sucked for Malta because A) Nowhere was outside of X Km of the sea and B) Their newly formed “Garbage Mountain” would need to be moved or something at great expense.

The EU has brought the alarming influence of the rule of law to the nation, from unrestricted migratory bird hunting mass massacres for no reason being restricted, to basic taxation being, well, implemented, and other things, like the introduction of the Euro.

I mean, this is a country that seriously had land ownership laws/regulation that consisted of “what the hell? You expect the GOVERNMENT to keep track of land deeds and ownership, we trust you guys will work it out between yourselves. Also here, have some of the most ridiculous squatter rights immaginable, and by the way if you want your phone line put on in the next 15 years you had better pay me bitch”. That stuff, well, I mean the EU lets a lot of things fly, but really over all they've largely been leaning on Malta to I dunno, do something ressembling responsible government.

On the plus side the EU is flooding the country with all sorts of grants for archaeological digs and site preservation and stuff. So... that's a good thing, especially for uncovering ancient plot hooks.

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PhoneLobster
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2013 3:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Tracing My Ancestors Made Easy
OK so my family has a name which means “Of The Phonecians” or possibly “Rabbit”. We've traced it back to basically the earliest records by the Knights of Saint John and their little Catholic priest minions, which is about the earliest anyone was recording marriages births and deaths and such.

Now tracing a family tree back to like I dunno the 1500s or whenever the hell it was they got their administrative recording act together, it may SEEM like a long time, but there is something important about the family tree that makes it relatively easy. And no, they weren't important people, they were fucking peasant/pirates legitimate farmers.

But the MEN in the family paternal line time and again, Consistently generation after generation had certain specific traits. One of them was being almost exclusively “self employed”, a trend broken only by my father. And the other one was waiting until at least the age of 40 to marry then having children for at least 20 years. Again, (so far) a trend only broken by my father.

So with my father the youngest of, erm... well... counting the mysterious extra siblings that are apparently dead like “The Twins”, counting pirate uncle, uncle with a glass eye (not to be mistaken for pirate uncle), the two Aunts who kept trying to kill my father when he was little, my other aunt, lets see... that makes him like the youngest out of 8 or 9 siblings and when he was born his dad was like 50 or 60 or something.

Which means if my Grandpa were alive today he would be easily knocking on the door of maybe 120 years old. No really. Definitely at least a 110. Hell my pirate uncle is like 70 or 80 or something.

This sort of age gap is a consistent trend. Time periods that take other “early breeding” families many generations to span my ancestors spryly leap with handfuls of elderly arthritic men (commonly with paranoid delusions).

I mean seriously it's like over a century per 2 generations, it's not many steps back to trace.

So that's a spooky hook right there. REALLY old Great Grandparents. Little “wait that's your ancestor from how FEW generations back???” moments.

What the hell were they up to?
No damn idea, I haven't looked at the family records myself, and some of them are so old you need like one of a handful of experts in the world to read the damn language they used. And anyway, it's basically births, deaths, marraiges and squat else.

What we DO have is the family stories. Which are mostly supernatural bullshit (because yeah, the family is like that, being about one generation removed from feudal peasants) and which aren't all that reliable (aside from being basically paranormal bullshit in the first place) what with the family being as far as I can tell hereditary paranoid schizophrenics terrified of sharing anything other than false information with their descendants for fear they will use it against them. Which they would. Because their descendants are all paranoid schizophrenics plotting to get them.

So all I got is a few ghost stories. All of which involve “I dunno you great grandpa or something” who may be the same guy, or might be several. Family tradition is that our family is “supernaturally gifted” and sees and experiences crazy bullshit others do not. Aside from using a trivial math based party trick with my dad and sister when we were kids that convinced my Aunts me and my sister are like mind reading super witches I have never seen any actual evidence other than my cousins penchant for throwing money at psychic frauds.

Though my sister DOES make a living selling fairy based art on the internets. Totally purely professional interest, she gave up the mind reading gig years ago.

Ghost Stories about Great Grandpa
1) He totally was chased by actual ball lightning this one time. This is entirely plausible if incredibly unlikely.

2) He fell asleep walling off the field this one time (totally not drunk off his nuts, again) and when he awoke “the fairies” had finished it off for him and built the corner he was propped on up like five times too tall. This well, someone built that wall, I've seen the damn thing, even though it's like only as old as maybe Great or Great Great Grandpa that puts it as old enough to be National Heritage here in Australia. In Malta it's basically a dangerous pile of rocks someone else's great grandpa's threw together to prank some drunk sucker.

3) He fell asleep during watch duty on one of the watch towers (probably the ones set up down the spine of the islands by the Knights of Saint John to keep an eye out for returning Turkish Invasions), totally not because he was drunk off his nuts (again). And was awoken by an angry headless ghost. This one is... um... well CLEARLY stupid, but it fills the “headless apparition” theme fairly clearly so it's worth bonus points.

4) My Pirate Uncle is obsessed with some sort of multi generational old legend about a lost “Golden Calf” artefact hidden SOMEWHERE on land previously owned by the family. I'm unclear if he claims to be looking for it, thinks he is hot on its tail, or claims to have already discovered and sold it. He is sufficiently crazy for that to be unclear. These days it he is sufficiently crazy for it to be unclear to HIM. This one gets bonus points as adventure plot hook.

My Immediate relatives
So yeah. As kids my father and his siblings got up to some crazy stuff like exploring air raid shelters and crap. At least two or three siblings died in uncertain circumstances. At least two of my Aunts tried to kill my father at various points involving biblical parable re-enactments, the well in the courtyard and a corrugated iron swing to the ear hole (he will show you the scar, nearly lost an ear).

One of my uncle's has one eye, owns his own little rental property empire, used to breed pigeons, and back in the day used to mix his own gunpowder and drive huge explosive loads of it around town in one of those tiny one man three wheeled joke cars while smoking as part of a childhood equivalent to a paper run job. But he isn't the pirate he mostly lives in Australia (though he is retiring to Malta for the religious experience and all the saints festivals, which he really loves).

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My other Uncle is the pirate. Now don't get me wrong he is a very bad man I don't want to glorify him. But there are people who do. Because he is some sort of crazy minor celebrity criminal to a lot of them sort of like a moderately modern Ned Kelly of Malta. The Maltese like defiant rebels even (or possible especially) if they are crazy murderous criminals, and this guy IS. He is famed for shooting some guy involved in some sort of love triangle then going on the run from the cops and remaining hidden until being informed on and caught in a chicken coup six months later. There was a lot of coverage, hiding out form the police that long on a tiny island was considered a big deal. He got pretty famous, and a long stint in prison. One time I totally stumbled across a youtube “celebrity sighting” type video of his dilapidated old truck. And yeah, I recognised that truck.

Anyway Uncle Frank (no really) as I know him, commonly Franchesku or something like that to the family, and some sort of folk nick name to the Maltese in general which I forget largely on the basis of Maltese nick naming conventions being crazy backward bullshit (Manuel is “le le”, you try and figure that out). Uncle Frank thinks he is a pirate. He lords over a rental property slum built off the back of robbing the family inheritance and his probable partial personal responsibility of the death of my Grandmother. His properties are largely slums and potato e fields because feudal prate peasantry is all he knows or cares about. He lives in ancient heritage (both family and just plain historic) buildings with no power (he fears modern electricity and medicine and stuff) that he fills with trash. He has an obsession with Gold beyond the suspiciously biblical Golden Calf legend. He buys and collects a lot of gold, and probably buries or otherwise hides a lot of it. He at all times literally carries around an actual honest to god sack of golden treasure. And in his other pocket carries an illegal loaded gun. For shoot outs.

One time he offered me a gold coin. I turned it down not wanting to owe him dick. He got so mad he threw it away, and hell, for all I know nearly shot me. I was like 11. He never forgave me. My sister took the coin, and the suspiciously green hard boiled egg from his pocket. She got very sick, but he totally likes her and constantly pretends he might leave everything to her in his will as part of his various yanking of various Aunts puppet strings in their endless scheming against each other for either the inheritance or just plain attention. Mind you he constantly pretends he will leave everything to various random strangers for that purpose. But never me. He hates me. My Aunts however know I am some sort of spooky witch what with the mind reading and the apparent apathy to their ridiculously childish plotting and are convinced I have a double secret plan that will one day steal the entire inheritance for me using, I dunno, apathy powered intercontinental mental domination via wall fairy headless ghost ball lightning or something I guess.

Uncle Frank gets up to... stuff... various illegal stuff as an ostensible Maltese Mafioso of some form. A lot of the land he runs is... only of questionable ownership status. I mean the government keeps track of nothing useful, so people rob him (and by extension the family if they ever got the inheritance in order, which they wont) and he robs other people.

Quite recently this resulted in him getting in another gun fight with some other rival would be rental property owner over land that as far as anyone can tell neither of them own outside of their imaginations. Also he nearly had a siege stand off with authorities when EU regulations compelled some minor government official with the need to request access to his chickens for a standard bird flu inspection.

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These days Uncle Frank is a crazy crazier old man losing his mind (what there was of it in the first place) and memory, and in a near pirate one up on his younger brother's glass eye, gaining diabetes and nearly losing a leg. He may or may not be getting married to a lawyer who totally wants to represent crazy aunts in totally dividing up the inheritance if they just give her like needless levels of legal authority and stuff. But that's probably a farce, like the two times he almost certainly tried to fake his own death for attention (and the one time it happened by accident, as far as anyone can prove, I mean, unless he killed that guy with the same name in the same hospital himself).

Oh and at least one prominent lawyer on the island apparently has some sort of vendetta against Uncle Frank and at one point basically promised to represent anyone going after him for anything.

It's all kinda sad, but then that guy is also basically a living adventure hook.

Malta Today
Is a bustling tourist island on the edge of the EU, packed with both British and German retiries and holiday makers, the waters are great for swimming, diving and boating, its like a big white rock in a warm swimming pool. There are various beaches, including fancy sandy resort ones for tourist chumps, and much nicer “its just a bit of solid rock then you can jump in the water like off the edge of a pool” type ones the less chumpy tourists like.

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The local girls are pretty as all hell, in a somewhat freaky artificial looking Euro-Arab-Barbydoll kinda way... and the local boys are alarmingly similar. The old people are terrifying mad men like my uncle and elderly female harpies in black catholic equivalents to the burka. The roads are tiny and the drivers are BAT SHIT INSANE not to mention utterly selfish to an extra-ordinary degree. Like hey, round abouts? Great place to park in a lane of moving traffic and go buy fucking lunch.

There are lots of ridiculous antiquities to go and see, very scenic fortified cities, and you can rent out a nice little villa on the cheap if you go at the right times. Though... who the hell knows who owns the villa or at leasts thinks they do sufficiently that they might have a gun fight with someone over it.

And if you are me and you are going there for a visit. TELL NO ONE. Or else there will either be trouble with Uncle Frank, or the Aunts will freak out and send approximately 1/3rd of my army of cousins out there on an emergency mission to prevent me using psychic headless ghost wall fairy ball lightning in my double secret plan to apathetically steal the inheritance they are trying to steal.

One day I would like to take my girlfriend out there. I fear at least one aunt might have a stroke if I do.

THE END
For now. I know among other things I've been very remiss in providing links and pictures this time, make requests if you like.
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Ancient History
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2013 4:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

...I may have taken a break from that and tried to google your uncle Frank, but I think I was using the wrong search terms because all I found was that Malta has its own unique breed of chicken, the Black Maltese.
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2013 7:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

*blinkb*
this was an incredibly entertaining and impressive read o.o
kinda like the stralia one ^^
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2013 9:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Ironically, not only have I been to Malta, I interviewed for and got a placement in the Maltese National Health Service. Unfortunately, Czech bureaucracy grinds wicked slow and I won't have my actual doctor papers until October or so, and the placement started two weeks ago. So I had to defer it, which means that the placement went to someone else. (sad face)

But if it wasn't for the constant Kafkaesque nightmare that is Eastern European semi-feudal bureaucratic horse bukkake, I would literally be working in a Maltese hospital right now.

-Frank
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2013 9:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

After that description, is that relief or regret in your post? O.o
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2013 10:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

FrankTrollman wrote:
But if it wasn't for the constant Kafkaesque nightmare that is Eastern European semi-feudal bureaucratic horse bukkake, I would literally be working in a Maltese hospital right now.

Quote:
"Stahlseele"]After that description, is that relief or regret in your post? O.o

If he can get a reasonable job there and secure good housing (which might take a while) then I highly recommend the country. The EU is a largely positive influence, the ruins are awesome, the weather is fantastic and the food... well OK maybe not Maltese wine, that may have improved but is still famously bad, but the food is nice.

The newer generations of people are nice enough, and often alarmingly beautiful. Just watch out for the crazy old Catholics. It's not that much different from half of Europe in many respects.

For someone like me there is the drawback of having family there if you don't, well, go, it's awesome trust me.

edit: Oh and these days if you want to see the Hypogeum or that temple with the solstice/equinox lighting up stuff, you need to book in advance.
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2013 11:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Interesting thread. I don't usually do historical fiction, but some very lootable ideas nonetheless. Thanks for doing all this research, Phonelobster!
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2013 12:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Avoraciopoctules wrote:
But some very lootable ideas nonetheless.

I'll be perfectly honest. Basically every second D&D setting I have ever run has had some sort of at least passing "Headless Goddess" cult in it. Possibly because I was exposed to those strange and compelling artifacts at a young age, or possibly because of an ancient blood curse, it's not fully clear.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2013 1:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The only criticism I can make is that I am disappointed you didn't mention Final Justice in your list of films shot in Malta.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2013 1:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

You know I totally bought and watched the Rifftrax of that movie too...

...let me say this about it they make a lot of jokes about how the locals keep letting homicidal bar fighting sherrif out repeatedly to get in more fights and there is some sort of silly crime lord in a villa and stuff... but actually having some experience with Malta I'd have to say all in all it's surprisingly convincingly believable as something that actually could have happened on the island during that time period.

And indeed I personally may well have been in the country during the time period that film was released/shot. In fact... I almost certainly was, in the same CITY even the same streets in the same city. I might easily even have been in the crowd at one of the damn parades in the thing.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2013 5:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

PhoneLobster wrote:

One day I would like to take my girlfriend out there. I fear at least one aunt might have a stroke if I do.


Fear or hope?
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2013 5:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The food is really excellent. It's like a mix of Italian and North African cuisine. I didn't much care for the local beer, but I live in the country that literally has the best beer so I wasn't surprised. They have a local soft drink called "Kimmie", which is basically like San Peligrino, but Maltese rather than Italian.

We were there in January, where you can in fact just show up and see the Hypogeum or Ħaġar Qim. This is not something you should do in the summer, but their online booking system was also not working when we went.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2013 9:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Well you can turn up anytime to see Ħaġar Qim but I'm led to believe there is some sort of booking dealio going on for seeing it at dawn on the best days surrounding the equinoxes and solstices, though I'm also led to believe that is run generally very poorly and somewhat at the last minute. So its sort of like they don't even start making a list until like a week or two before or some such mess. Personally I'm amazed they even do it, I mean it's largely a publicly accessible site, do they chase off people who turn up between proscribed hours? In Malta of all countries? You couldn't pry a Maltese old lady off that rock if she wanted in at dawn without a booking, and she would, because that's what they do.

I'm rather surprised about the Hypogeum, as all I've heard about it is that it gets harder to see all the time. I'm told there are flat out parts of it I saw as a kid which you can't even get into as general public at all anymore. And the booking stuff for it, also a mess, but somewhat more organized than the dawn things for Ħaġar Qim. Well. When it works at all.

But yeah. Malta has a very heavy tourist season and gets pretty crowded in summer, you can go through in winter, even spring with pretty nice swimming weather, and expect it to be much easier to do pretty much everything and pay less in the process.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2013 9:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Oh yeah and...
FrankTrollman wrote:
The food is really excellent. It's like a mix of Italian and North African cuisine.

I particularly like their rabbit based spaghetti sauce, and cook a number of traditional dishes myself here in Australia.

And like most things they get their food influences from basically every nation on the Mediterranean, and that very much includes North Africa.

But you might want to be careful which of the locals you actually mention that too. Even relatively enlightened Maltese can be surprised when they go on holiday to Morocco and find half the dishes there exceedingly familiar. Your, less enlightened, probably older, Maltese will flat out deny any link and possibly accuse North Africa of stealing it off them and trying to make them look bad in the process.

I think it's probably a lot better with the younger generations these days, but people my dads age and older, I really can't stress enough, the running thing about their insistence on being part of 4000 continuous years of good Catholic (and somewhat Italian) culture and nothing else is very much a thing among the worst of them.
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OgreBattle
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 04, 2014 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Great read
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 04, 2014 10:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

PhoneLobster wrote:
I particularly like their rabbit based spaghetti sauce, and cook a number of traditional dishes myself here in Australia.


Wouldn't mind trying such a thing myself, if there's a recipe of it you recommend.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 04, 2014 11:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Unfortunately I don't cook the rabbit dish myself.

But there are a million recipes on the net.

Around the place.

It's basically a tomato based spaghetti sauce which you are going to have to slow cook a fair bit for the rabbit, and which tends to be heavily seasoned with herbs and maybe some extra stew vegetables like peas or potatoes.

Unfortunately being a Maltese recipe the Maltese typically wildly disagree on exactly what to put in it. So... just pick one you like the look of. Personally I'd avoid the ones with ginger. But olives and peas are nice.

I can give you a recipe for noodles in the oven (with potatoes in the bottom) or a really simple little fry up dish involving potatoes, egg, bacon and tomato. But it's so simple I've given you most of the recipe already.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2014 2:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Sounds good to me. Thanks.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2014 3:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I don't know how I missed this the first time. That was a really entertaining overview, PhoneLobster.
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