Malta has a long history and was first inhabited in around 5900 BC. The first inhabitants were farmers, and their agricultural methods degraded the soil until the islands became uninhabitable. The islands were repopulated in around 3850 BC by a civilization which at its peak built the Megalithic Temples, which today are among the oldest surviving buildings in the world. Their civilization collapsed in around 2350 BC, but the islands were repopulated by Bronze Age warriors soon afterwards.
Malta's prehistory ends in around 700 BC, when the islands were colonized by the Phoenicians. They ruled the islands until they fell to the Roman Republic in 218 BC. The island was acquired by the Eastern Romans or Byzantines in the 6th century AD, who were expelled by Aghlabids following a siege in 870 AD. Malta may have been sparsely populated for a few centuries until being repopulated by Arabs in the 11th century. The islands were conquered by the Norman Kingdom of Sicily in 1091, and a gradual Christianization of the islands followed. At this point, the islands were dominated by successive feudal rulers including the Swabians, the Aragonese and eventually the Spanish.