An ancient Roman quarry discovered during excavations will become part of the layout of the new Gozo Museum in Victoria, a €9 million project documenting the island’s cultural heritage.
The museum is being constructed on the site of the former Ninu Cremona boys’ lyceum in Republic Street.
The archaeologically rich site was discovered in February of last year. Due to its scale it is considered a unique discovery in Gozo’s archaeological history.
Works on the museum had to be stopped at the time but plans have since been revised to incorporate the quarry into the museum.
When the quarry was found, experts believed that the mined limestone boulders and slabs were meant for diverse structures. Very little damage had been done to the ruins during the construction of the school due to a lack of cellars and underground spaces.
So far, no evidence has come to light indicating any prior knowledge of the ancient Roman site.
In August of last year, an early exploratory dig unearthed a similar discovery of Roman-era quarry ruins that stalled plans for a primary school in Victoria, only a stone’s throw away from the find at the site of the planned museum.
Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri and Culture Minister José Herrera laid the foundation stone for the museum on Friday.
Works are under way on the first phase, a wing dedicated to the island’s maritime history
Works are under way on the first phase, a wing dedicated to Gozo’s maritime history.
Meanwhile, restoration is being carried out on existing structures which will be incorporated into further wings of the museum.
Some of original structures from the 1950s by Joseph G. Huntingford, the Maltese architect known for this modernist works on Gozo, will be retained.
Camilleri said works were progressing on schedule with strict attention to deadlines, so that the museum would open its doors to locals and visitors soon.
“This museum will be one of Gozo’s prime attractions, that above its natural beauty needs to attract a specific kind of quality tourist who seeks appreciation for the culture of this island and the way our forefathers lived,” the minister said.
Herrera said Gozo was blessed with unique gems and patrimony that were emblematic of its culture.
He noted that, while focusing on the island’s values and history through permanent and temporary exhibits, the museum would also serve as a platform to display several priceless artefacts that currently do not fit in with existing collections.
“I am satisfied that the people of Gozo and Malta and the tourists who visit will finally have an opportunity to appreciate Gozo’s robust heritage,” Herrera said.
The minister said this was one of a series of investments made in cultural heritage through Heritage Malta’s acquisitions, among them the Grandmaster’s Palace and Villa Guardamanġia, which would bring people closer to their history and values.
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