Malta’s world-famous Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, will be the key location studied at the up-coming Archaeoacoustics Conference between 19 and 22 February 2014.
Researchers are increasingly taking note of particular sound effects that are created in some of the world’s earliest buildings, including Malta’s Megalithic Temples.
As a result, selected experts from across the globe will flock to the Maltese Islands, where they have been granted special access to test the Hypogeum’s acoustic behaviour with a vocalist in the so-called ‘Oracle Chamber’.
“This acoustic phenomenon, together with the Hypogeum’s mysterious nature and its suggestive ambience, resulted in the site becoming associated with a number of fantastic stories, urban myths and legends,” says Katya Stroud of Heritage Malta, which granted permission for this research to take place.
“Among these are stories of serpent priests, genetic mutation, humanoid beings and screams of children lost in caves underneath the site. Despite their dubious origins and unfounded nature, these stories are still making appearances in local and foreign media. It is now up to science to help us zoom back onto the real questions about the nature of the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum, particularly its acoustic design and effects.”
Linda Eneix, the conference organiser who is based in the United States, also believes there is good reason to look more closely. “Based on preliminary work completed elsewhere, there is a hint of something important here,” she says, adding that the speakers will include the renowned Iegor Reznikoff, who has completed 30 years of research in the Sound Dimension of Painted Caves and Rocks, as well as Richard England, Panagiota Avgerinou, Anna Borg Cordona and Ros Bandt, to name but a few.
“People attending the conference are qualified to take it to the next step. If one theory tests out, as we suspect it might, then our Stone Age ancestors have left us a gift that has incredible relevance in the modern world: one that, for all our techno-savvy smartness, we would probably never have thought of again,” Ms Eneix adds.
Meanwhile, the Corinthia Palace Hotel & Spa has been chosen as the ideal base and host for those attending the conference, as well as the site of the official conference itself. The hotel is especially ideal as it is so central to all of the key sites of interest.
“The Corinthia Palace is dedicated to highlighting Malta’s iconic historical and cultural wonders, and hopes to work closely with the conference organisers to ensure they get the most out of their stay,” says the hotel’s general manager David Woodward. “The prospect of what could be researched here is very exciting, and we are so happy to support that.”
To register for the conference kindly visit: www.OTSF.org/conference.htm