Courtyard and coincidence in prehistoric temples in Malta and Gozo




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Prehistoric buildings were constructed in a late neolithic and agrarian island culture in Malta and Gozo up to a sudden abandonment c.2500 BCE. The largest is Ggantija, the giant woman, dating from about 3600 BCE. Astronomical theories have involved coincidences of direction with the stars and the most southerly moonrise, something seen for a couple of years in a ‘lunar standstill’ every nineteen years. John Cox has explored a moonrise theory, which involved taking photographs over the most recent standstill 2005-2007 from inside three of the older temples. In this talk he will show photographs taken on that survey and discuss some of the cultural factors that might be involved.

Image shows Last quarter moon April 2007, view through Hagar Qim E temple, photograph Michael Spiteri

John Cox read Philosophy at York (1966-1969) and has an M.A. in Landscape Studies from the University of Westminster (1995). He curated the survey and photograph show Megalithic Sites at the ICA in 1976. In collaboration with Richard Monkhouse he co-developed a star-imaging program shown at the London Planetarium, the RGO, and the Harvard-Smithsonian. He is an associate member of SEAC (European Society for Astronomy in Culture).