Part of a Byzantine clay jug and a US army plate from World War II were among the items retrieved from the sea during a cleanup at the Ta’ Xbiex marina recently.  

Milk bottles from the 1950s were also recovered as well as more than 2,200 other assorted glass bottles, 70 tyres and more than a tonne of mixed waste.  

In total, more than three tonnes of waste, which also included plastic, metal, ropes and fishing gear, were hauled from the marina.

A team of over 80 volunteers, including scuba divers and free divers worked all morning during the event last weekend organised by environmental and waste management NGO Żibel.

Volunteers hard at work in Ta' Xbiex. Photo: Andrea Azzopardi.Volunteers hard at work in Ta' Xbiex. Photo: Andrea Azzopardi.

“The cleanup brought to light interesting historical artefacts. The oldest piece of cultural material recovered was an upper portion of an amphora [clay jug],” said a spokesperson for the NGO.

"Another interesting piece was a portion of a plate dating to 1936, as written on it, belonging to the US army in World War Two. It was probably disposed of in the sea during the British occupation of Malta, but it is difficult to determine,” he said.

Describing the section of clay as a “treasure”, the spokesperson stressed the importance of treating such discoveries carefully, however.

“Most dives within a marina such as this one are held in minimal visibility, with divers requiring the use of touch to find debris. However, it is crucial to note objects of historical importance are to be left on the seabed if spotted,” he said.

Glass bottles dating back to the 1950s were also recovered. Photo: Żibel.Glass bottles dating back to the 1950s were also recovered. Photo: Żibel.

“If these objects are mistakenly recovered, they are to be reported to the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage [SCH],” said the spokesperson, adding the NGO enjoyed a “close relationship” with the SCH and the University of Malta archaeology department.

The cleanup was supported by Saving Our Blue, the Environment Ministry and the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA).

A total of 70 tyres were recovered from the marina. Photo: Andrea Azzopardi.A total of 70 tyres were recovered from the marina. Photo: Andrea Azzopardi.

Additional support was provided by Dive Systems Malta, Portughes Dry Cleaning, GasanMamo Insurance, Prohealth Malta, The Alfred Mizzi Foundation, Sostenibilita’, Clean Malta - Cleansing and Maintenance Division, and Avatar: diving made easy.

Following publication, a spokesperson for Żibel informed Times of Malta the Superintendent for Cultural Heritage had confirmed that the clay amphora, originally reported as believed to be from the medieval era, was Byzantine. The article has been updated to reflect the latest information from SCH.  

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