Hypogeum of Malta

The incredible sound effects of Malta’s Hypogeum Hal Saflieni

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The Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni in Malta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which is believed to be the oldest prehistoric underground temple in the world.  The subterranean structure is shrouded in mystery, from the discovery of elongated skulls to stories of paranormal phenomena. But the characteristic that has been attracting experts from around the globe is the unique acoustic properties found within the underground chambers of the Hypogeum. 

Hal Saflieni Hypogeum is a cultural property of exceptional prehistoric value, dating back approximately 5,000 years and the only known example of a subterranean structure of the Bronze Age.  The 'labyrinth', as it is often called, consists of a series of elliptical chambers and alveoli of varying importance across three levels, to which access is gained by different corridors.  The principal rooms distinguish themselves by their domed vaulting and by the elaborate structure of false bays inspired by the doorways and windows of contemporary terrestrial constructions.  

Although not known for certain, it is believed that the hypogeum was originally used as a sanctuary, possibly for an oracle. It is for this reason that a unique chamber carved out of solid limestone and demonstrating incredible acoustic properties has been called ‘the Oracle Chamber’.  According to William Arthur Griffiths, who wrote ‘Malta and its Recently Discovered Prehistoric Temples’, a word spoken in the Oracle 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."

It is said that standing in the Hypogeum is like being inside a giant bell. At certain pitches, one feels the sound vibrating in bone and tissue as much as hearing it in the ear.  Sarasota arts and architecture critic Richard Storm explained the sensation: "Because you sense something coming from somewhere else you can't identify, you are transfixed."

The acoustic properties within the Hypogeum have already been studied extensively. It was found by Maltese composer Ruben Zahra and a research team from Italy that sound resonates at 110 Hz within the Oracle chamber, and this matches the same or similar frequency that has been found in many other ancient chambers around the world, including Newgrange in Ireland.  According to Dr Robert Jahn from Princeton University, it may be the dimensions of the room or the quality of the stone that determines the exact pitch of this echo behaviour.

But the question remains – was it intentional? Was the Hypogeum actually designed to enhance amplification? If so, why? Is it possible that the designers of these spaces knew something that modern scientists are just rediscovering? 

One theory put forward by Paolo Debertolis and Niccolo Bisconti of the Universities of Triests and Siena respectively, is that the chamber was constructed in such a way as to created acoustics that would affect the psyche of people, perhaps to enhance mystical experiences during rituals, and this perspective has received scientific backing.  Dr. Ian Cook of UCLA and colleagues published findings in 2008 of an experiment in which regional brain activity in a number of healthy volunteers was monitored by EEG through exposure to different resonance frequencies. Their findings indicated that at 110 Hz the patterns of activity over the prefrontal cortex abruptly shifted, resulting in a relative deactivation of the language centre and a temporary shifting from left to right-sided dominance related to emotional processing. This shifting did not occur at other frequencies.   

Whether it was deliberate or not, the people who spent time in the Hypogeum under conditions that may have included ritual chanting -- were exposing themselves to vibrations that may have impacted their thinking. In addition to stimulating their more creative sides, it appears that an atmosphere of resonant sound in the frequency of 110 would have been “switching on” an area of the brain that bio-behavioural scientists believe relates to mood, empathy and social behaviour.

Despite the plethora of research on the acoustic properties of the Oracle Room, there remain just as many questions as answers. It is for this reason that the Hypogeum was the key location for the Archaeoacoustics Conference held between 19 th and 22 nd February. During the event, a multi-disciplinary undertook a challenging and unprecedented experiment.  Ultrasensitive microphones were placed in the Oracle Chamber of the Hypogeum and digital recorders were used to test the response of the chamber by different voices and by simple musical instruments which could have been present in the time the Hypogeum was in use (4000 - 2,500 BC).

Comments

Zuell's picture

Similar tests were done at Stonhenge.

Zuell

aprilholloway's picture

This will be fascinating to hear more about. Sounds like it was a meditation chamber meant for ascension, with the vibrations being felt through the body, and the elongation of the skulls was an attempt to make the body achieve the golden ratio it seems among Thoth followers. Is there any more info about the exact location and age of this?

aprilholloway's picture

You can see a map of its exact location on this site: http://heritagemalta.org/index.php/museums-sites/hal-saflieni-hypogeum/ 

It was built in approximately 2,500 BC, but some believe it is even older. 

I look forward to seeing the results of that study.

archaeologyrocks

It fascinates me that fundamentalist Christians believe the Earth is just as old as the emergence of writing, as well as acoustic phenomena that stimulated the brain. There we have words and music.

Most all religions have it wrong.  Purposefully deceiving people for centuries and misleading them is why the world is in such a state.  Yes, I am antireligious, but I wasn't always.  I don't mind if others are religious, but as far as I can tell, religion has destroyed more than it has brought to the world.

The truth of these people with the elongated heads have been figured out, they were a stone culture older than agriculture, related to Noah's people from the Caucasus mountains and the black sea, also occupier of Gobekli tepe, original occupiers of Canaan (present day Israel), builders of Egypt, Stonehenge, the same culture began the bronze age, can you guess the culture? if not let me tell you, it was the Phoenicians, a secretive culture that has influenced every known ancient cultures, from the Middle East to Europe, Australia, every Polynesian island and the Americas north and south, in other words the whole world, they where also the original creators of secret societies from stone masons, to the free masons, Rosicrucian, you name it they are associated to all secret societies including the Templar, in my book you will find out what the Maya was waiting for, on the long count of their calendar, and what the crystal skull where used for, a lot has been figured out and more needs to be worked out.
the connections and proofs are indisputable and you can read it in my book, that is soon to come out, called the Neanderthal in you.
the reason for the large skull are linked to the Neanderthals genetic influence, and it also explains how all non African races where created, these people were call Gods by the Native Americans and for a good reason, their large skulls housed incredible genius brains, brains that would only compare to all known modern geniuses combined with a memory that would compare to rain man, the man that inspired the movie the rain man. any way if you want to know more, get the book when it comes out, I will thank you.

hank you.Cannot agree more.What will be the name ofyour tome please?Looking forward to it.Cheers.

please tell us more about your background and the research process that went with the writing of your book. thank you.

The book I wrote is theoretical, and yet the proofs are indisputable, in the book I talk about the before and after the out of Africa theory, and what has happened to us ever since, the book is almost done been edited and I was still writing a week ago, the information I have stumble onto is incredible, the evidence that many scientist have been theorizing about have been misinterpreted and because one thing that I theorized about made sense, I have been able to connect it to other pieces of evidence to make better sense. I am not a trained writer and that's going to be obvious, but, the process that went into writing is very simple, I theorized about what the Neanderthals really looked like and then wrote about it, but the important thing is in how the proof of that is embedded in and on us, and everything that we have become, we can thank the Afro-Neanderthal encounter and interbreeding, a good portion of the book was spent explaining that, but what I had not counted on was what came after, previously unknown pieces of history, lost to the ages, but the evidence is there staring us in the face, just don't know what is it that we are looking at, did you see Disney's " the little mare maid" were Arial was describing common household items to her fish friends, only we know that she wasn't right, well that is how I feel scientist and historians have been describing common household items of the ages to us, were we are the fish, and when this scientist and historians get frustrated with it, they just say, well it was the space aliens who did it. my book offers alternatives to those items of evidence and the choice as to who is right about the explanations, will be left after very intelligent readers, much like yourselves.
as far as the illustration that describes the Neanderthal there is none, I cannot find an interested illustrator to work on it, they all have passed, not interested. the book will go on without the illustration, but once it is illustrated you will be surprised that it does not look anything like it has been portrayed to be, mostly because they were not human like us, but 100% genetically able to interbreed, at the moment there's till hope and time to work on that illustration, another thing is that, other than the editors no one else have red the book, no scientist nor historians, which is too bad, because is going out to print with or without their acknowledgements. my guaranty about my book, is that when you see the visual clues to the explanations, your hairs will stand on the back of your necks. write me and tell me if you are interested in hearing more, because there is so much more.

angieblackmon's picture

amazing. i'd be interested to know what happens when various pieces of classical music are played. i wish findings like this made the news! 

love, light and blessings

AB

With all respect, I know for sure the new age gods and religions that are the largest in some ages are the ones that actualy responsible for garbling the truth up. I wonder what idiot was responsible for taking out all skulls in the hypogeum as the hypogeum was the keeper of these skulls. Hands off and more respect would do a lot good. With current nowledge is was far out better to unrafle than that the current nonsense is that is told now. I have been 3 times in the hypogeum and know for sure it is far older than 2500bc. The time that new religions overwhelmed the current world what is very unrespectfull for these brilliand build tombs.

nisa burkay's picture

I have read also that  a form of acoustics hallway, where sounds were played similarly exists at Efesus and was used for healing.

Nisa Carroll Burkay

Of course the ancients, whomever 'they' truly were, knew far more than we do today when dealing with nature and living entities.  Tesla was the man that should have enlightened the masses, but, unfortunately, he only enlightened the few--myself included.

In time, the masses will discover the secrets, and although I'm not really into violence... those that have stolen, hidden and abused our past knowledge should pay in some way.  Knowledge should belong to everyone and although I believe it is accessible via our "mind", we have to be trained to open it--that is the opposite of what our current historical perspective has been about--especially, when speaking of 'schooling' or 'education'.

Keep digging.  I love it when the masses are forced to think.

The Derinkuyu, Turkey, and the Hypogeum, Malta are the same people, the same stone culture through the ages, check the similarities between the two underground cities. they are identical. I can go on and on as to how this culture has influenced our world from the time of the 11 thousand year old temple in Gobekli tepe, Turkey. much can be said about this three stone sites in the connection to Stonehenge, Egypt and precolonial America, the proof is literally written in stone. also check single stone carved temples, all of them are interconnected by the same, not different, some-what similar stone cultures. I mean the same culture and the proof is in the details and carvings and one more thing that ties them to the same sun worshiping culture, yes, the sun God. the disk you see on the back of saints come from that same culture.

dysan's picture

This structure is clearly of “archaeoacoustical” importance.. amazing :)

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