| 5 November 2006
Bronze Age settlement unearthed in Malta
Archaeological investigations have unearthed traces of a Bronze Age settlement and Roman remains at the historic Santa Margerita Cemetery, in Rabat (Malta), the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage has disclosed. Having completed the scientific investigation, the Superintendence is studying the best means to preserve the remains on site with the Health Department, the Acting Superintendent of Cultural Heritage, Nathaniel Cutajar, said.
The investigation followed the discovery of remains during construction works to extend the burial ground by the Health Department. The traces of a Bronze Age settlement within the cemetery enclosure are "possibly the single most important discovery", Mr Cutajar said, explaining that it is the first scientifically attested finding of prehistoric remains in Rabat. The find pushes the foundation of the town back to the 10th century BCE at the latest.
The construction works at the cemetery last year had made no provision for archaeological monitoring, so the report on the site's discovery reached the Superintendence with some delay, Mr Cutajar said. The Superintendence had to invoke the Cultural Heritage Act to stop the works in order to assess the situation and to record the emerging archaeological situation within the new cemetery grounds extension. Negotiations with the developer took almost a year to complete and archaeological excavations were initiated this summer, Mr Cutajar explained.
The scientific investigations conducted have indicated various traces of a Bronze Age settlement within the cemetery enclosure - an important find that takes on even greater significance if put within the context of other Bronze Age discoveries at Mtarfa and Mdina.
The cluster of findings indicates that between the middle and late Bronze Age, a substantial prehistoric settlement had developed in and around Mdina, Mr Cutajar explained. "The 2005 excavations carried out by the Superintendence in Mdina, and those carried out this summer at Santa Margerita in Rabat have demonstrated, without a doubt, that a considerable settlement existed in the area at least 400 years prior to the arrival of the Phoenicians in Malta."
Source: Times of Malta (31 October 2006)
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