Aldo Moro roadworks cover Roman tombs

The ancient tombs were built upon by roadworks to pass a storm drainpipe

The Facebook group Temple Rescue Malta shared a number of posts on the development, saying that the concerned authorities showed “complete apathy” in preventing the loss of these tombs. But the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage said the articles found on site, such as bones – animal and potentially human – as well as pottery and other curios of archaeological importance, were examined and taken for preservation
The Facebook group Temple Rescue Malta shared a number of posts on the development, saying that the concerned authorities showed “complete apathy” in preventing the loss of these tombs. But the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage said the articles found on site, such as bones – animal and potentially human – as well as pottery and other curios of archaeological importance, were examined and taken for preservation

Roman tombs discovered during roadworks on the Aldo Moro thoroughfare in Marsa have been built upon by roadworks to pass a storm drainpipe, the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage has confirmed.

The Roman tombs were discovered close to the Turkish Military Cemetery during roadworks for a storm drainpipe as part of a larger roads project, back in February 2018.

“They’re still there under the road. Whoever’s going to dig next is going to find them again,” said Joe Magro Conti Superintendent for Cultural Heritage, which is the government entity that examined the site of archaeological interest before works continued.

The Facebook group Temple Rescue Malta shared a number of posts on the development, saying that the concerned authorities showed “complete apathy” in preventing the loss of these tombs.

But Magro Conti refuted the charges that the government authority responsible for heritage was not carrying out its job. “In its silence, the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage does a lot of work. Unfortunately, a lot of misinformation goes around on social media,” he said.

Magro Conti said articles found on site, such as bones – animal and potentially human – as well as pottery and other curios of archaeological importance, were examined and taken by the superintendence for preservation.

A spokesperson for Temple Rescue Malta, which groups archaeology enthusiasts and graduates, however, insists that the archaeological inventory taken was just ‘business as usual’. “These finds are usually placed in bags and in a box with a masking tape label naming the location of the site and the date of discovery, and then placed in a room with hundreds of other similar boxes as opposed to opening the site to the public.”

The Superintendence of Cultural Heritage said it had employed an osteologist to examine the site and retrieve any bones, which has always been the way archaeological findings are dealt with, Magro Conti explained.

Temple Rescue Malta’s spokesperson insisted that this was an outdated system and that the Superintendence had just two qualified osteologists to assist it in its work. “There are only two osteologists in Malta. With hundreds of archaeological sites being discovered every year on both islands, how can they handle all these cases? They can’t, hence why some sites are destroyed before they get a chance to examine them,” Temple Rescue said.

The group also insists that the main tombs in the line of the storm drain had been destroyed and that further tombs were now covered underneath the soil.

But the Superintendence refutes accusations that it showed no interest in investigating them further. Magro Conti said that the group was misinformed and that all precious articles were preserved for further study and that the tombs were still there under the development. “We are the number one enemy of planning and development. We examine 200 cases per week for planning purposes. Not all that is said in social media is said in the right context or with the right information,” Magro Conti said.

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