Sky and Purpose in Prehistoric Malta by Tore Lomsdalen

Sky and Purpose in Prehistoric Malta: Sun, Moon, and Stars at the Temples of Mnajdra

Author: Tore Lomsdalen

Series: Sophia Centre Master Monographs, Vol. 2

Publisher: Sophia Centre Press 2014

Price: £15.00 Paperback, 260 pp.

ISBN 978-1-907767-41-8

 

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The megalithic temples of Malta, one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites, have been a continued attraction for exploring unanswered questions about prehistoric culture. In this book, Tore Lomsdalen situates the temples in their archaeological context and reviews the archaeoastronomical surveys of them.

He then turns to the question of intentionality in the alignment of the Mnajdra South temple. Lomsdalen presents the results of years of fieldwork conducted at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and introduces new evidence about and insights into the quixotic temple architecture and its relationships with the sky.

 

Praise for Sky and Purpose in Prehistoric Malta
‘Through careful and persistent studies, Tore Lomsdalen has transformed the temple of Mnajdra into a living demonstration of the enduring power of the ancient sun.’ — Dr. Kim Malville, Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences, University of Colorado

 

‘A highly provocative reconsideration of the archaeoastronomy of the megalithic temples of Malta, which has charted out and explored a new research agenda for the subject.’ — Dr. Reuben Grima, Department of the Built Heritage, University of Malta

 

‘This book raises the standard of archaeoastronomical studies of prehistoric Europe. A must-read for anyone interested in this emerging topic’. — Dr. Fabio Silva, Institute of Archaeology, University College London

Tore Lomsdalen holds an MA in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and a certificate from the Faculty of Astrological Studies in London. His research interests include archaeoastronomy, cosmology and, especially, Maltese temples.

Acknowledgements
v
List of Figures
xii
Foreword
xvii
Chapter 1: Introduction
1
1.1 Aim
1
1.2 Malta’s ‘Best Kept Secret’
3
1.3 Cosmology and Astronomy in Malta
6
Chapter 2: Maltese Prehistory: A Literature Review
13
2.1 The Neolithic Diffusion in a European Context
13
2.2 The Colonisation of Malta and the Early Neolithic
17
2.3 The Temple Period
24
2.4 The Mnajdra Temple Complex
31
2.4.1 History of Site Research
33
2.4.2 Landscape
36
2.4.3 Description of the Temples
39
2.4.4 Building Sequence
62
Chapter 3: Maltese Cosmology and Astronomy: A Literature Review
65
3.1 Cosmology and Landscape
65
3.2 Temple Period Astronomy
70
3.3 Mnajdra and the Cosmos
82
Chapter 4: Methodology
91
4.1 Site Visits
91
4.2 Surveying
92
4.3 Astronomical Observation and Photography
94
4.4 Experimental Archaeology
97
4.5 Phenomenology
102
Chapter 5: Results
105
5.1 Archaeoastronomical Survey of Mnajdra East and Middle Temples
107
5.1.1 Mnajdra East
107
5.1.2 Mnajdra Middle
108
5.2 Archaeoastronomical Survey of Mnajdra South Temple
112
5.2.1 Main Entrance
113
5.2.2 Horizon Postholes
116
5.2.3 Cross-Quarter and Eighth Days
122
5.2.4 Oracle Holes
128
5.2.5 Other Possible Alignments
129
Chapter 6: Discussion
135
6.1 Maltese Archaeoastronomy
135
6.2 Intentionality Behind Mnajdra
137
6.2.1 Offset Illumination and the Light/Dark Dichotomy
138
6.2.2 An Astronomical Intention Behind the Oracle Holes in Mnajdra South
142
6.2.3 The Solstitial Postholes
143
6.2.4 The Construction Sequence of Mnajdra
145
Chapter 7: Conclusion
160
Appendix I
163
Appendix II
186
Appendix III
208
Appendix IV: Glossary
221
Bibliography
224
Index
233