New Way of Considering the Ancient World to Be Explored at Historic International Gathering in Malta

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The compelling hint of an ancient mystery about to be decoded will resound at the first ever multidisciplinary conference on Archaeoacoustics: The Archaeology of Sound, presented by The OTS Foundation.

Our early ancestors may 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.

Researchers from around the world will travel to the Mediterranean island of Malta in February 2014 to share their experience with unusual sound behavior in sacred places and ancient monuments: from Göbekli Tepe in Turkey and prehistoric ruins in Iran, to Malta’s megalithic temples and Greece’s sacred caves, to Stonehenge and Maeshowe burial chamber, to Chavín de Huántar and Mayan pyramids in the New World. http://www.otsf.org/conference.htm

The question goes beyond: “Did ancient people try to manipulate sound?” to wondering: “Why?”

Presentation titles like: “Score of Babylon," “Stonehenge Revisited," “Fear and Amazement," and “Pan Rituals of Ancient Greece: a Multi-Sensory Body Experience” promise an ear-opening educational experience.

Participants will be seeking a thread that identifies the most fundamental application of the human experience of hearing. “We are particularly interested in the role acoustic behavior may have had in the development and design of important architecture and ritual spaces throughout the ancient world, and its possible biological impact on human brain activity,” says organizer Linda Eneix. The multi-disciplinary aspect is expected to help highly specialized experts to understand complicated principles of other fields such as archaeology, music history, physics, neuroscience, architectural engineering, ethnomusicology and anthropology in order to create a holistic platform for interpretation.

The conference location comes with its own brand of excitement. An intact 6,000-year-old underground mortuary temple with dramatic sound effects presents an opportunity to virtually step back in time and hear what was heard by prehistoric man, in an environment that he created, possibly purposefully as a giant stone resonator. Malta’s Hal-Saflieni Hypogeum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is under strict conservation limitations that restrict entry to only ten persons per hour. Since its discovery in 1902, a strange play of sound in the stone rooms and halls has been reported, particularly surrounding a space known popularly as “The Oracle Chamber”.

“A word spoken in this room is magnified a hundredfold and is audible throughout the entire structure. The effect upon the credulous can be imagined when the oracle spoke and the words came thundering forth through the dark and mysterious place with terrifying impressiveness." (- Extracted from the May 1920 edition of National Geographic Magazine.)

Eneix believes there is good reason to look more closely. “Based on preliminary work done elsewhere, there is a hint of something important here,” she says. “These are the people to take it the next step. Our early ancestors may have left us a gift that has incredible relevance in the modern world: one that, for all our techno-savvy smartness and noisy distractions, we would probably never have thought of again.”

Organized by the US-based OTS Foundation (http://www.otsf.org), and co-hosted by Heritage Malta (http://www.heritagemalta.org), the non-profit conference welcomes academics, researchers, musicologists and non-presenting enthusiasts.

“The Corinthia Palace Hotel & Spa is proud to host such a prestigious conference and we are looking forward to welcoming delegates to Malta from all parts of the globe. Our location is ideal, across from the Presidential Palace and midway between two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Malta’s capital, Valletta and the silent city of Mdina” said David Woodward, General Manager.

Observers are very welcome. All presentations will be in English. Registration is required. A hosted accommodation package is available.

About The Old Temple Study Foundation (OTSF) -
Based in the United States and Malta, non-profit 501(c)(3) OTSF operates highly successful educational travel programming for North Americans in the Maltese Islands for Road Scholar and the American Institute of Architects.    Its activities have caused enormous economic benefit through tourism. Additionally, this non-profit foundation has contributed over US$300,000 to the University of Malta including an Archaeology Laboratory, various research projects, and philanthropic conservation and heritage awareness initiatives around the world.

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