I am burned out on Stonehenge. How much play can be squeezed from a circle of old rocks sitting in a wheat field? Even the far flung theories surrounding this megalith are stale. So, the Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni was a welcome addition to my offbeat archaeology reading list.

This underground freak chamber hides so many mysteries, you’d need a weekend and a good search engine to scoop it. The Hypogeum is a subterranean network of interconnected chambers (think antfarm), located on the Mediterranean island of Malta. It was built at least 6000 years ago –predating the Great Pyramids and Stonehenge by 1000 years.

A small room within this temple, known as the Oracle Chamber, is believed to be the center of worship. Its rounded walls and corbelled ceilings amplify a spoken word a hundredfold. Archaeo-acoustic investigations have demonstrated the Oracle Chamber produces vocal resonances at the exact frequencies required to activate the emotional centers within the human brain.

In other words, the high priest(s) would chant within this room and trance their followers throughout the Hypogeum. It’s no coincidence Wikipedia’s ‘Trance’ page discusses the Oracle of Delphi, because this was a popular practice throughout the ancient Greek world.

Regardless, the Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni stands alone because it didn’t use geologic gas leaks or drugs to hypnotize devotees. It used acoustic engineering principals that we are only beginning to understand 6,000 years later. Conspiracy theorists cite the Ancients’ advanced acoustical knowledge as proof they had been contacted by extraterrestrial beings. How else could they know this stuff?

Some scientists explain these people of antiquity had lived in caves shortly before building the Hypogeum, so they know the art of echoes well. I don’t know if this explanation was tongue in cheek but it makes sense. At worst, it was a world class dodge.