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24 December 2005
Mnajdra and Hagar Qim temples to be covered

The temples of Mnajdra and Hagar Qim will soon be covered after the Malta Environment and Planning Authority board yesterday gave the green light to the construction of shelters to protect the megalithic monuments. The two important sites date back to the late Neolithic period, approximately between 3,600 BCE and 2,500 BCE. The area designated as the Hagar Qim and Mnajdra Heritage Park consists of a piece of land measuring around 40 hectares.
     Following Mepa’s approval, the next step is the design and construction of temporary protective shelters for the temple structures and the construction and furnishing of a visitors' centre. Accessibility issues, audio-visual facilities and security measures, including the installation of high-tech surveillance systems, will also be addressed. The protective shelters will be temporary for a 30-year period. The tent over Hagar Qim will be 11.55 metres high while that over Mnajdra will be 9.10 metres high.
     The principles behind Mepa’s decision to approve the application were the improved management of archaeological sites and the protection of the temples. The visual impact the tents would have was a crucial factor during the application process. The need to protect the temples has long been felt, because the material used for their construction has been ravaged by the elements, especially direct rainfall and solar radiation. Following the setting up of design specifications, and in line with Unesco’s guidelines, an international design competition was launched in November 2003. The winning design will be constructed on site.
     The Mnajdra Neolithic temple was the target of vandals in April 2001 when around 60 megaliths were dislodged, with the result that some were broken.

Source: The Malta Independent (23 December 2005)

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