Children visiting the Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra Archaeological Park will now be able to download an audio guide for children for free on their school tablets and from any smart device. The 30-minute audio guide targeted at children aged ten and over is narrated by a young woman from the village of Xagħra in Gozo who would have lived around 5000 years ago in the Neolithic period whilst the megalithic buildings were being constructed.
The narrator’s well-preserved skull was discovered in the Xagħra Circle, and a 3D facial reconstruction was commissioned by Heritage Malta in 2013. The exercise, the first of its kind in Malta, creates an almost tangible link with the Neolithic. Children visiting the archaeological site can now put a Mediterranean face to their virtual tour guide and early ancestor. They may be surprised to find out that she did not look that different from anyone living in Malta and Gozo today.
After downloading the guide using a QR code, children can select between the English and Maltese languages. The interactive tour kicks off in the visitor’s centre with a short 3-D movie covering some background as to how Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra were built, forgotten and rediscovered. Numbered pit-stops along a specially designed route indicate where their audio guide narrator has something new to say, a task to deliver or questions to ask. Participants may be prompted to touch or move objects, to ponder the lifestyles of the Neolithic inhabitants of the Maltese Islands and to try and solve the many riddles the archaeological remains pose. The tour continues with an introduction to the surrounding countryside, observing local flora and fauna and examining the geological formation of the landscape. Whilst visiting the sites, the audio guide points out the various architectural features of each monument, explaining the different building materials used in their construction given the limited resources available at the time. Children are encouraged to provide their own interpretations of astronomical phenomena within the park and to appreciate conservation measures taken to protect this UNESCO World Heritage Site for posterity.
The audio guide enhances any family or school visit to Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra Archaeological Park. It engages children with their heritage in a fun and educational, tactile, auditory and visual, multi-stimulatory experience, enabling them to go beyond the pile of stones and rubble they are initially presented with. They live the experience through the eyes of a young woman they can relate to, someone real, who was once alive, eager to flex their limbs, brimming with curiosity as they are. Their young audio guide helps bring the site back to life, inspiring children to visualise Neolithic life as it was circa 5000 years ago. Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra Archaeological Park is open Monday to Sunday, from 9am to 4.30pm.