George Cremona (August 4) referred to the report Tarxien Temples To Be Protected By Tent. In this report Heritage Malta chairman Joseph Said was quoted as saying that “this project was of a higher priority than the construction of an interpretation centre at the same site, announced several years ago”.

Unfortunately, the report did not carry the full text of Mr Said’s intervention when he explained to the members of the press that different sites held different conservation needs; the needs of Ġgantija, for instance, being very different to those of the sites that have been sheltered. Being largely built of coralline limestone (qawwi), the problems of material weathering are much less evident at Ġgantija than they are at Ħaġar Qim, Mnajdra and Tarxien, which are built almost entirely of the softer globigerina limestone (franka). Therefore such a shelter is fortunately not required at Ġgantija.

Mr Said also explained that the €9.2 million archaeological heritage conservation project, part-funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) being implemented by Heritage Malta, also includes an in-depth structural analysis of the problems affecting Ġgantija, which will form the basis for a well-informed strategy to address these problems.

He further explained that improved visitor facilities were also a high priority on Heritage Malta’s agenda, but conservation of the structures themselves must always take priority. Heritage Malta’s mission is twofold – it is responsible firstly to preserve, and secondly to render more accessible the cultural resources entrusted to it. The investment in interpretation centres that is taking place at Ġgantija and St Paul’s Catacombs, through EU funding and that which is planned at Tarxien with the generous support of Bank of Valletta, are key measures to fulfil the second part of this mission.

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