Temple of Malta
Description of the Exhibit/ working Principle:
Historical Background - Around 12,000 years ago with the advent of farming the astronomical science took root through the interpretation of astronomical events by mankind for better understanding of agriculture and irrigation system. For farming, the land used to be irrigated for which primitive farmers relied heavily on tides in the rivers. Gradually they became aware that appearance of moon is related to tides and so they started to follow the lunar phase cycle (29.53 days).
But for agricultural process measuring the passage of time in accordance with sun, became a necessity to know the proper season for sowing of crops. So they started to made huge stone structures to predict the seasonal events and to follow the solar cycle for farming.
One of such oldest free standing stone structure of the world is - Mnajdra (3600-2500 B.C) –lies along the southern coast of Malta, Europe. The structure is composed of three prehistoric temples, which were built many centuries before Egyptian pyramids and Stonehenge. This masterpiece was world’s earliest solar observatory.
Working Principle: Among the three temples the lower one (extreme left one) was aligned astronomically. It was able to predict celestial events such as summer solstice, equinoxes and winter solstice etc.
In spring and autumn equinox (20th/21st March & 22nd/23rd September) Sun shines through the main doorway along the major axis of the temple to illuminate the central altar. During the solstices (21st June & 22nd December) the Sun shines on the edges of megaliths on both sides of the doorway.
Mode of Display
A scaled down model of Temple of Malta associated with a mechanical arragement is used to demonstrate how the lower temple acts as a solar observatory. The primary objective of such a gigantic structure was to precisely determine the equinoxes and solstices with minimum error.
At first, full-scale 3D drawing of the temple has been done and based on that drawing the scaled-down model has been sculpted with every detailing. A movable LASER source is used in this exhibit as Sun. The LASER source is allowed moved on a rail in such a way that it covers the entire solar path over a year.
Visitors are allowed to move the Source over the rail and see how the LASER spot shines through the main doorway and illuminate the alter at equinox, Summer solstice and winter solstice. This working exhibit is intended to reflect the remarkable architectural, artistic and technological achievements of the prehistoric culture.