[WATCH] Roman remains face destruction if Manoel Island project goes through, archaeologist warns

Archaeological remains dating back to the Roman era, which have been submerged through years of clamate change, risk being lost, archaeologist Reuben Grima said

Archaeologist Reuben Grima and independent candidate Arnold Cassola
Archaeologist Reuben Grima and independent candidate Arnold Cassola
Roman remains face destruction if Manoel Island project goes through

Roman remains dating back two millenia face destruction if the Manoel Island project goes through as planned, an archaeologist has warned.

Submerged rectangular cuttings in the rocks on the island dating back to the Roman epoch could be the oldest human remains in the area, archaeologist Reuben Grima said at press conference on Manoel Island held with independent MEP candidate Arnold Cassola.

The remains are submerged due to years of climate change, which created a rise in the sea-level, in turn immersing the site, he explained. They can be found along the promenade facing Gzira, with some going further than that.

Grima said that the site, which is of historical and scientific importance, is helping archeologists acquire more knowledge in the field.

“The site helps us in understanding the human activity in the area at the time, while also aiding us in gathering important information on the effects of sea-level rise due to climate change,” Grima said. 

“These features evidently merit scheduling, and for all intents and purposes of the planning process, should be safeguarded as such,” independent MEP candidate Arnold Cassola said. 

A study on the site was conducted in 2013 by Stefano Forlani, but the paper was not included in the assessment of the permit issue for the project. 

Independent MEP candidate Arnold Cassola said that the plans to build a new bridge extending from the Gzira promenade to Manoel Island would be effectively destroying the remains. 

The plans to widen the canal between the two areas also spell doom for the historical sites as strategies include a three metre extraction into the sea-bed. 

An official request has been submitted to the Superintendent for Cultural Heritage by Cassola. 

Cassola also said that he has lodged a complaint with the Ombudsman regarding the way the Planning Authority had considered an amendment of the original outline development permit PA 2135/94, issued in 1999, which had expired in 2004.  

“The Planning Authority considers the permit as still valid, as it was included in the 2006 North Harbour Plan, and so the current application needs an amendment and should not proceed according to the normal procedure,” he added. 

More in National