Heritage Malta will be continuing with the work on the protective shelters at the Hagar Qim and Mnajdra temples following the arrival on site yesterday from Italy of the material which will form part of the protective shelters, a Heritage Malta statement said yesterday.
The membranes and the supporting frames were transported to the temples and unloaded in an operation which took several hours because of the size and weight of the material. Each of the boxes containing the canopy membrane weighs five and a half tonnes.
The preparatory works for the erection of the canopies has been going on for several months. Following careful studies of the two sites, the foundations are now being prepared. In the next few weeks an international team of workers will be putting up the supporting structures. The contract for the protective shelters has been awarded to Canobbio SpA which is executing the contract in collaboration with Maltese subcontractors. This company specialises in the manufacture of protective shelters having manufactured similar structures in stadiums and other open spaces in several countries.
Mnajdra Temples will be the first to get their protective covering. Work at these temples is at an advanced stage and the supporting structures will shortly start being erected. This complex process is expected to take several weeks at each of the two sites. The work on the two canopies should be ready by the end of 2008.
The decision to erect the canopies was taken in 2000 to slow down the deterioration of the temples. Hagar Qim and Mnajdra were constructed mainly using soft globigerina limestone and have been deteriorating because of exposure to the elements especially rain and sun.
The lifespan of the membrane is between 25 and 30 years. During this period alternative protective measures will be developed with the aim of consolidating the monuments in a less visually intrusive manner.