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An archaeoacoustic study of the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum on Malta

  • Rupert Till (a1)

The remarkable subterranean architecture of the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum on Malta has generated many claims about its dramatic acoustic effects, but previous studies have lacked rigour. A systematic, methodical approach has now been applied to measure the acoustic properties of the site, and to test earlier assertions. The results confirm some, but not all, prior observations, and demonstrate how a sound-based approach can contribute to an understanding of the archaeological context. It is argued that for the people who created the Hypogeum, the acoustics must have had particular significance and ritual power.

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P. Devereux 2009. A ceiling painting in the Ħal-Saflieni Hypogeum as acoustically-related imagery: a preliminary note. Time and Mind 2: 225–31.

P. Devereux & R.G. Jahn . 1996. Preliminary investigations and cognitive considerations of the acoustical resonances of selected archaeological sites. Antiquity 70: 665–66.

R. Skeates 2008. Making sense of the Maltese temple period: an archeology of sensory experience and perception. Time and Mind 1: 207–38.

R. Till 2011. Songs of the stones: an investigation into the musical history and culture of Stonehenge. IASPM Journal 1 (2): 118.

R. Till 2014. Sound archaeology: terminology, Palaeolithic cave art and the soundscape. World Archaeology 46: 292304.

D. Turnbull 2002. Performance and narrative, bodies and movement in the construction of places and objects, spaces and knowledges: the case of the Maltese megaliths. Theory, Culture & Society 19 (5–6): 125–43.

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  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
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