Mepa News Release 7.07.08

MEPA officials discover megaliths and other remains

A number of unrecorded prehistoric archaeological remains were discovered by MEPA officials during development works at Tarxien within the buffer zone of the Tarxien Temples.

As in the normal practice, all ground disturbance works within archaeologically sensitive areas planning permits always contain conditions and bank guarantees requiring monitoring by archaeologists. Following the issue of a permit for the re-development of an existing building located with the buffer zone of the Tarxien Temples complex which were scheduled by MEPA in 1998 as published in G.N.829/98, the Heritage Planning Unit within the Forward Planning Division, MEPA carried out a routine site inspection. During the site inspection it was noted that demolition and site clearance works uncovered a number of features of considerable archaeological value. These features consist of two main groups of large megaliths/boulders. One group of megaliths consists of at least four megaliths which appear to be still in situ, forming part of what has been tentatively identified as being part of a megalithic structure.

Apart from the megaliths a number of pottery shards were noted, all of which can be safely dated to the Temple period (4,100-2,500 B.C). A good number of these shards are diagnostic pieces (parts of rims, handles and bases), with some pieces having also scratched and incised decorations typical of the period. These scratched decorations are comparable to the concentric curves found on Ggantija phase pottery (3,600-3,000 B.C.) as well as the ‘comet’ motif which is also datable to the Ggantija phase. Another shard has been identified as being part of an ovoid type jar with tunnel handles datable to the Tarxien phase (3,300-2,500 B.C.). The shard consists of part of the handle, having pronounced ribs surrounding the two ends of the tunnel handle with incised decorations. Two vertical rims may be identified as forming part of a Tarxien carinated bowl (a carination is a pronounced acute angle in the side of the vessel). One such rim has a delicate and accurate lozenge pattern incised in the fabric.

In line with the Cultural Heritage Act, 2002, MEPA has submitted the available information to the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage. The Superintendence has confirmed the interpretation of the features as identified by the Heritage Planning Unit, and both agencies are currently collaborating so as to properly investigate the features and ensure their preservation. Both the applicant and architect are providing their full collaboration.