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     George Gordon Noel Byron (1788-1824) became Lord Byron in 1792. When he became of age in 1809 he and a friend, John Cam Hobhouse made a Grand Tour to Spain, Malta, Greece, Albania, Constantinople and the Aegean and returned to England in 1812.

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     The stamp shows Lord Byron with a map of the city of Valetta, as can be seen by comparison with the map Valetta Civitas Nova Maltae olim Millitae, by P. van der Aa in his rare atlas, La galerie agréable du Monde, published in Leiden in 1712.

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     The stamp is one of a set issued to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the founding of the city in 1566.
     Soon after the Turks left Malta following the destruction of Fort St. Elmo in 1565, the grandmaster of the Knights Hospitalers, Jean Parisot de la Valetta, began construction of a fortified city next to and including Fort St. Elmo.
     Before he could begin the actual construction he had to raise money. To do that he sought the aid of the Pope and the monarchs of France, Spain and Portugal. All responded with generous gifts. The Pope, in addition to financial assistance, also sent his official architect. Francesco Laparelli.
     De la Valetta died in 1568 shortly after the project was begun. The building was completed under the direction of his successor, P. de Monte. The order of the Knights Hospitalers transferred their headquarters to the new city in 1571. Laparelli planned and directed the work until 1569. He left his assistant, Girolamo Cassar, in charge.
The design is based on van der Aa's "La galerie agréable du Monde." The title of the map is Valetta Civitas Nova Maltae olim Miilitae, published in Leiden in 1712.

Ggantija ~ ca, 3000 b.c.

     The most impressive Stone Age temples in Europe are near the village of Xaghra on the island of Gozo. It is believed to date from about 3000 B.C. under Minoan and Mycenaean cultures. Ggantija is also spelled Gigantija, meaning “giant’s tower.” The two Ggantija temples, one smaller than the other, are both shaped like a five-leaf clover. They are surrounded by an outer wall of rock slabs, some weighing 50 tons. The inner walls of the temples were plastered and painted a deep red. Excavations have uncovered human bones from as early as 4000 B.C. 
     Little is known about the religious practices of those who built and used the tombs. The shape of the temples themselves as well as that of figurines discovered in them has led some to believe that the temples were for the worship of the Mother Goddess. Others believe that worshippers practiced a cult of the dead, offering liquids to an earth goddess. 
     The temple builders disappeared from Malta during the second millennium B.C.

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     The design on the Maltese stamp is based on a drawing of a model of the complex in Malta’s National Museum in Valletta.