The Malta Independent 18 November 2018, Sunday

Discovery Of archaeological remains at Rabat cemetery

Malta Independent Monday, 29 November 2004, 00:00 Last update: about 6 years ago

The extensive remains were discovered during recent work undertaken at Santa Margherita cemetery in Rabat. These remains include large stone blocks similar to those at the Roman domus, just across the street. A short stretch of wall has also been uncovered, as well as a rectangular rock-cut feature which may be an Arab or medieval tomb. An quantity of Roman pottery has already been identified on the site.

The work being carried out at the cemetery was not covered by a development permit from Mepa, and was causing serious damage to the archaeological remains on the site. Officers from the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage and from Mepa intervened to protect the archaeological remains, and stop the unauthorised work.

The site itself is located in an area that is considered by Mepa to be an area of archaeological importance. This policy requires care and adherence to directions given by both Mepa and the Superintendence.

The Rabat area is extremely rich in archaeological remains. It is generally believed that the Roman city of Melite covered much of the area which is today occupied by Mdina and also by the older parts of Rabat. It is therefore no surprise to archaeologists when remains of ancient buildings are uncovered in this part of the island.

Malta’s urban archaeology is often misunderstood. Some of the country’s most important heritage assets lie underneath Malta’s towns and villages. The Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, a World Heritage Site, as well as numerous Christian

catacombs that are extremely important to the history of Christianity, lie a few metres beneath streets and gardens. This factor is often overlooked during development work. Trenching work and building development, as well as the clearing of urban spaces for development purposes, often lead to the unearthing of important archaeological remains.

Unless these are treated with the care that they deserve, a great deal of valuable information will be at risk of being irretrievably lost, the Superintendence said.

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