A ‘mysterious’ structure unearthed during excavation works at Tal-Balal, in the limits of Naxxar, turned out to be an underground reservoir, Infrastructure Malta confirmed.

While the state agency would not say if this was of historical importance or not, it pointed out that steps had been taken to preserve it. However, evidence on the ground suggests otherwise as part of it seems to have been lost.

Discovered last September during work to widen this arterial road, the underground structure with its vaulted ceiling had aroused curiosity and fuelled questions. At the time, Times of Malta tried to establish whether it had any historical importance but no reply was ever received from the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage.

However, the cultural watchdog had officially complained it had been completed ignored by Infrastructure Malta, saying it had not been consulted on the possibility of any heritage discoveries prior to the start of work.

Interest in the matter was reignited recently when the site was covered with debris and the surface flattened.

An Infrastructure Malta spokesman said the structure was a reservoir built in one of the several disused quarries in the area.

Pointing out that only “a small part” was located within the road’s new footprint, he added that the rest of the structure was built within the limits of a plot of agricultural land that had been earmarked for development in 2006.

However, the agency declined to say if the discovery had any heritage value or not. In his reply, the spokesman said a survey was carried out following consultation with the “applicable authorities”, none of which was mentioned by name.

While the findings of the survey were not divulged, the agency said it was subsequently decided to “incorporate” that part of the structure within the road’s footprint. Such operation involved filling up the reservoir with debris “without dismantling it”.

When Times of Malta visited the site, there was no trace of the vaults even though part of the excavated area was still exposed.

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