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A state-of-the-art Environmental Monitoring Station has been installed at Ġgantija Temples in Xagħra, Gozo, thanks to funds donated by the Vodafone Malta Foundation. This equipment will enable specialists to monitor the temples’ exposure to the environmental elements, and gauge the toll that climate takes on the open-air sites such as erosion levels affecting the prehistoric structure.
Nicoline Sagona, Heritage Malta Manager for Gozo, explained that the new weather station at Ġgantija is equipped to measure temperature, relative humidity, barometric pressure, solar radiation, rainfall, wind speed and direction. This information, which will be collected regularly over a long period of time, will help conservators and curators take more informed decisions in favour of the preservation of Ġgantija and of other historic monuments.
Environmental data provides a better understanding of the environment in which a site stands, and the conservation treatment needed. All this is aimed to prolong a monument’s lifetime, which has to be addressed according to patterns which emerge from such data.
Gemma Mifsud Bonnici, Chairperson of the Vodafone Malta Foundation, reiterated the Foundation’s commitment towards social and cultural investments which help preserve, protect and promote Malta’s history and heritage for the present and future enjoyment both of the Maltese people and of foreign visitors to Malta and Gozo.
This is the first time that environmental data is being collected at the Ġgantija Temples. Similar weather stations are installed at the Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra temple complex, and at Tarxien Temples. Data collected through these systems has helped in decision-making processes related to the preservation of the temples, including the installation of protective shelters at Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra.
The Vodafone Malta Foundation has also donated funds towards the production of an interactive DVD and two touch screen computers to improve the accessibility of the Ġgantija site. The DVD, which is at the final stages of production, is a virtual tour of Ġgantija – a digitised version of the site with impressive 360 degrees photography, informative text and voice-overs. The DVD is played on the touch screens, helping users navigate the site virtually, and giving visitors an enhanced museum experience. The virtual tour will be available in Maltese, English, French, Italian, Spanish and German.
The Ġgantija Temples are one of the most important archaeological sites in Malta and their listing on the UNESCO World Heritage List makes them of universal significance. The Temples give priceless evidence of an advanced prehistoric civilisation flourishing on the Islands around 5,000 years ago. The Ġgantija Temples date back to between 3600 BC and 3000 BC and consist of two megalithic temples surrounded by a massive common boundary wall. The name of the complex is derived from the Maltese word ġgant meaning giant.