[WATCH] Missed the Mnajdra equinox due to the coronavirus? Watch it here

A special livestream from Heritage Malta allows you to witness the spring equinox from the main doorway of the southern Mnajdra temples

Posted by Heritage Malta on Thursday, 19 March 2020

As the first rays of the sun projected themselves through the main doorway of the southern Mnajdra temples, viewers were able to witness the spring equinox online, thanks to a special live stream by Heritage Malta.

Since the construction of the Mnajdra temples around 3,600 B.C., on the first day of spring, the first rays of the rising sun shine through the southern temple’s doorways, marking the equinox.

An equinox happens when the sun crosses the plane of the earth’s equator, making night and day of approximately equal length all over the earth.

The event marks the special relationship between the temples and the seasons, and while it is not known for certain whether the temples’ orientation is intentional, they are so systematic that this is very probable.

In prehistoric times, societies’ observation of the moon, stars and sun is thought to have been linked with the changing seasons and times of planting and harvesting.

While Heritage Malta organises yearly events in which it invites the public to witness this “momentous sunrise”, restrictions due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic resulted in the cancelation of the event.

Instead the agency streamed a livestream of the event on its Facebook page.

The Mnajdra temples are located in an isolated position on Malta’s southern coast, and are some 500 m away from the Hagar Qim Temples.

The South Temple has its entrance set in a concave monumental facade and leads to two rooms, or apses.

Opposite the main entrance is the doorway to the second set of apses flanked by two large blocks decorated with small drilled holes.

The doorway and the decorated blocks mark the position of the rising sun on the first day of spring and autumn (the equinoxes), as well as the first day of summer and winter (the solstices).

Heritage Malta opens virtual doors to cultural sites

This event was part of Heritage Malta’s initiative to include virtual accessibility to national museums and sites that are temporarily closed due to the Covid-19 epidemic.

The agency is also collaborating with tech-giant Google, providing internet users the opportunity to virtually visit all of Heritage Malta’s museums through the technology company’s portal, Google Arts and Culture.

“During this extraordinary time, the Ministry together with Heritage Malta are using modern technology to come up with new measures to continue making our cultural heritage accessible for all,” natural heritage minister, José Herrera said.

“Our initiatives aim to nourish a sense of hope, particularly through the presence of prehistoric sites that have survived adversities over thousands of years,” explained Noel Zammit, Heritage Malta’s CEO. “More than ever, such moments help us to understand and appreciate the value of sites which have been recognised as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.” 

Malta’s cultural sites have joined the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the Van Gogh Museum in the Netherlands, the National Gallery of Arts in Washington, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and more, through this virtual project.