I asked this question before in this thread, so thought I'd try again.
The Maltese Cave Entrance
This entrance is located on the island of Malta, near the small village of "Casal Paula." (This village is built on the "Corradino" plateau, and overlooks the capitol town of Malta, "Valletta," as well as Grand Harbour.) In 1902, workmen digging a well in Casal Paula fell into a subterranean cavern. The well was being dug for a house on "Hal Saflienti," the main street in Casal Paula. The cavern the workers had fallen into connected with an entire complex of caves and tunnels. This entrance is known as the "Hypogeum of Hal Saflienti." (In Latin, "Hypogeum" is the name for an underground structure.) "The tunnels under the Hypogeum have been sealed off even since a school took 30 students into the caves and disappeared, guide and all. Search parties were never able to locate any trace of the people and children.
Does anyone have any factual details on this missing school party? Or is this some kind of embellishment? I recall in an earlier FT article on an author called Shaver and his subterranean creation the Dero (IIRC) that there was a tale of sightings of bizarre creatures in these tunnels, which may have been linked to the disappearance of this school party. It also mentioned that the tunnels enabled one to travel from end of Malta to the other.
Well, I have been in the Hypogeum, and there was no mention of a missing school party, in fact there would not have been anywhere for them to go missing. The tunnels certainly do not extend under the whole island- I noticed at the time that some of the stories the guides well telling were slightly spiced up for the tourist trade...
The Hypogeum is a fantastic place, however, definitely recommended. About ten metres underground, in the soft limestone rock, a series of underground temples have been excavated by the Neolithic/copper age civilisation of Malta, around the time of Stonehenge and the Pyramids. These large, round rooms have smaller sanctuary rooms adjoining, and reflect the surface temples of the same culture with their fat goddess statues and spiral motifs.
It is quite similar in design and size to Skara Brae, actually, but 10 metres underground.
A strange quality of the Hypogeum is the acoustics- if you hum loudly, or sing certain notes, the entire construction vibrates resonantly.
One of the rooms at least was filled with human bones when discovered, by the way... http://www.theculturedtraveler.com/Heritage/Archives/Malta.htm
Groups of children going missing together, never to return, figure in the legends of many countries, especially ones with European cultures. They are believed to refer to the Children's Crusade, which, erm, didn't actually happen.
I like the sound of this Malta tale, but I fear it will turn out to be
as foundationless as the Hanging Rock mystification.
I think Peter Weir's film claims to have been based on a true story
but the authoress was evasive about the status of her
tale. Researchers have blown a number of holes in the alleged
facts and found no reference to such a disappearance in
This legend says
that where today lies the area known as "tal-Maqluba",
just south of the Maltese village of Qrendi, there once was an
evil village. The people were so bad that God punished them by
opening the ground and the whole village was swallowed by the
earth. The opening in the ground stopped exactly in front a
chapel, which is still present just by the edge of this enormous hole which is around 50 meters in circumference and around 40 meters
and a cite from
'the August, 1940 issue of the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Magazine'.
any way of checking this issue? the rest of this site is fairly bonkers as well, but there's nothing wrong with that in itself.
Now, apparently this stuff was "reprinted" by one Riley Crabb, Director of Borderland Sciences Research Associates, in his printed 1960s lecture "The Reality of the Underground." However, there is a website dedicated to National Geographic caving references at http://home.mira.net/~gnb/caving/natgeo.html which makes no reference to anything caving related in the August 1940 issue. I'll try to track down the actual article, but perhaps this Mr. Crabb took it upon himslef to whip up some source material and attribute it to National Geographic?
Here's an interesting article relating why the builders of the Hypogeum diappeared!
...theory could also explain the greatest mystery on Malta, what happened to the temple builders. They appeared 7,000 years ago, and over the next 3,000 years manipulated slabs of limestone into temples decorated with elegant carvings of animals, spirals, and the statues rudely described as "fat ladies".
The three stories underground Hypogeum mortuary temple, needed an estimated 22,000 tons of rock to be picked away with antler and bone tools.
Having created what one architect speaker called "mankind's first great architecture", the temple builders apparently downed tools, stopped work, and vanished from the face of the earth around 4,500 years ago.
Dr Sagona believes the farmers had pushed agriculture to its limits, so that minor climate change could have caused catastrophic crop failures.
More on the story of the vanished Maltese schoolchildren and a story of an encounter with "very large creatures of humanoid form completely covered with hair from head to foot" in Malta's underground burial chambers. :shock:
I can't help thinking about these lost Maltese children for whatever reason. What a weird story... At least this part sounds true to me. Can you imagine a school teacher being that irresponsible? Consider for a moment this possibility: What if the teacher knew exactly where he (she) was taking the schoolkids to? Think of human sacrifices and possibly existing cults ...
What is odd is that there wasn't a lot more journalism about this at the time.
"Years ago", but when exactly? And "teachers", but who and how many and from where? Who were these kids, locals or part of a foreign tour group, and who was in charge of the search? And how do more than thirty people just disappear? One or two people could meet with a sudden accident, and be very difficult to locate in a mine or cavern, but what could cause more than thirty people to just disappear? Things like cave-ins or toxic/volatile gas would leave plenty of evidence. There were bombing raids against Malta in 1940, but again the 1940 article says the vanishing happened "years ago". Is there even a memorial plaque for the victims somewhere?
I have tried, and failed, to find any confirmation of the 'lost children in Malta's Hypogeum' story. The website mentions a National Geographic issue in August 1940, about lost schoolchildren in the 'catacombs' beneath Valetta.
Although I have not been able to find a copy of that article I suspect that the whole story is a fabrication, and no school party was ever lost.
It is easy to make up a story like that, and add a spurious reference to an article in an old magazine.
Even if the lost schoolchildren story is true, or partly true, the 'humanoid' element is almost certainly nonsense.
The Hypogeum is a fascinating place, but it certainly isn't connected to a system of catacombs.
Malta: "Missing Students" Story WAS Mentioned in N
"The website mentions a National Geographic issue in August 1940, about lost schoolchildren in the 'catacombs' beneath Valetta."
Eburacum, like you I've long been fascinated by the "lost students of Malta" legend and likewise puzzled by the marked lack of solid documentation.
However,. I HAVE examined that August, 1940, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC issue and it DOES indeed mention, AS FACT, the story of the vanishing students! However. the information is contained only in a photo caption. Even so, NG is usually pretty darn accurate in its reporting. So I think we can establish that the story was at the very least in common circulation on Malta at the time when the article was written (1939 or 1940).
But even if we acept the story as true, there are all sorts of unanswered questions which nobody (other than me and thee) seems to have the slightest interest in solving. Among others:
1. When DID this happen? (Before mid-1940, obviously.)
2. Were the students of primary, high school or college/university age?
Remarkable. Thank you for that; the Fortean index of this story has become much higher.
Of course the story told by 'Miss Jessup' about 'hairy humanoids' is not directly connected to the dissapearance of the children, but just refers to it as a local incident. So there is no reason to expect that the humanoids story is authentic, or that any of these events involved the Hypogeum. In fact it is pretty certain that the Hypogeum has no passages connecting to any other 'catacombs', as it has been thoroughly surveyed by archaeologists in the past.
The Hal Saflieni Hypogeum has one tatalizing link in Google, which seems to be lost, even from the cache:
The Malta Independent Daily Website
... place known as the “Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni”, was so ... schoolchildren and their teachers became lost in the ... walls caved-in on the students, search parties ... www.independent.com.mt/daily/newsview.asp?id=24727 - 18k - Supplemental Result - Cached - Similar pages
The tunnels under the "Hypogeum" have been sealed off ever since a school teacher took 30 students into the caves and disappeared, guide and all. It was stated that the walls caved in on them. Search parties were never able to locate any trace of these people.
Eburacum, I was raised with these stories in Roman Catholic grade school. According to the most common version a man gets separated from his travel party in the catacombs, brcomes lost and disoriented, then wanders deeper and deeper into the back recesses of the place - with the result that his skeleton is discovered many months or even years later.
Most of the sisters had themselves been to Rome and toured the catacombs and they'd heard this story (and others like it) from their tour guides.
So these yarns were cautionary tales STARTED BY THE TOUR GUIDES THEMSELVERS! They made no money if a tourist went off exploring on his (her) own with a Cook's Tour map in hand..
I went into Google and tried the variant spelling "Jessop" and all became clear and I realized where I'd seen the name before.
She was "Mrs. Constance Lois Jessop" and in the 1950s and 1960s she lived at 101 West 55th Street, New York City (10019).
At that time she was the secretary of the "New York Saucer Bureau," which I believe was rather contactee-oriented. She was apparently a good friend of contactee Dan Fry as well as of Riley Crabb of the Borderland Sciences Research Foundation.
Lois Jessop informed Crabb of the adventures which had befallen her during the mid-1930s as she hiked through tunnels underneath or very near the Maltese Hypogeum.
This seems to have been within weeks of the "missing students" debacle.
Hal Saflieni is about four kilometers from Valetta old town, where any catacombs might be expected to be found; I can't find any mention of catacombs in Valetta open to the public, although there are some in Rabat, more than ten kilometers away.
With a high degree of confidence I think it is possible to say that there are no catacombs connected to the Hypogeum, which is a World Heritage site and has been surveyed thoroughly, not least to make this 3D model. http://www.cs.bris.ac.uk/~alan/Arch/INS ... nsite1.htm
Mrs. C. Lous Jessop seems to have informed Riley Crabb that after her hike through the tunnel or catacomb she was warned by the locals against trying this again - because this was precisely the location where the teacher and students had disappeared, apparently only a few weeks earlier. And when Mrs. Jessop decided to repeat her journey anyway, in spite of the warnings, she found that the tunnel had now been SEALED OFF.
Yes; that is where the link with the Shaver Mystery comes in.
In the Forties and Fifties the SF magazine Amazing Stories began to publish fantastic tales of underground civilisations on Earth, written by one Richard Shaver; http://www.softcom.net/users/vtown/feardownbelow.html
These became very popular apparently, and seem to have contributed to the great UFO flap of 1947 (according to the author of that link.)
The Malta tale may have had a kernel of truth, taken from the National Geographic perhaps (or possibly Ms Jessop actually went there); but the whole is part of a great subterranean confection without basis in reality.