The Malta Independent 27 November 2021, Saturday

Archaeological excavations at Tas-Silġ lead to further discoveries

Thursday, 11 July 2019, 14:54 Last update: about 3 years ago

Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government Owen Bonnici announced during an event at Tas-Silġ in Marsaxlokk that current excavations in the site have led to new discoveries.

“The site of Tas-Silġ in Masaxlokk is one of the most important archaeological sites in Malta and, possibly, in the Central Mediterranean. It contains the remains of more than 4000 years of structures, most of which were used for religious purposes, and through these discoveries, we are learning more about our ancestors, and making this information more available to the public, whilst also shedding more light on the work entailed in archaeological excavations,” stated Owen Bonnici during his visit.


In fact, it is here that the famous temple of Ashtart mentioned by Cicero and despoiled by Caius Verres was located.

Along the years, both the Missione Archeologica a Malta and the Department of Classics and Archaeology of the University of Malta have conducted extensive excavations at this site. Nevertheless, not all the areas have been investigated and the site is open only to the public during open days or on request.

One such area is the so-called ‘farmhouse’ which is currently aimed for restoration in order to turn it into a visitor centre. This centre will enable visitors to enjoy better services when visiting the site. It will also be equipped with digital interpretations to enhance the public’s experience and understanding of the site.

Since this farmhouse was built within the archaeological site, it was necessary to understand the archaeological remains which might have survived beneath the floor of this relatively modern structure. The significance of such an excavation garners more importance when one remembers that the location of this structure occupies a corner of this once-famous temple.

These excavations are being carried out in collaboration with the Department of Classics and Archaeology of the University of Malta, which is utilising this dig to train its students in archaeological practices. Close collaboration is also held on this and other digs with the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage.

The current excavation is being carried out over 4 weeks within and around this farmhouse. Although still unfinished, the removal of the farmhouse floors have uncovered a series of floors and preparation layers, including the 2,000 year old floor of the Temple of Ashtart. Layers connected to the later use of the area are, however, also being uncovered and are of equal importance to understand the development of this structure, once the Pagan temple was abandoned.

This project is just the first step in a long-term plan that Heritage Malta is currently implementing for the site. These include the finalising of a management plan, and a conservation plan.

This event was organised by Heritage Malta in collaboration with the Department of Classics and Archaeology at the University of Malta and provided the public with the opportunity to observe the archaeological investigations which are currently taking place at the site of Tas-Silġ.

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