A couple were caught etching names and love messages on a megalith at Ġgantija Temples, in Gozo causing “irreparable” damage to the monuments that are older than the Great Pyramid of Giza and Stonehenge.
The two suspects, who were spotted by a security guard, have been arrested and are expected to be arraigned soon. The incident happened on Tuesday.
Heritage Malta sources said the etchings in the 5,500-year-old megalith were quite deep.
Officials on site were baffled by the reaction of the two suspects, a Maltese man from San Ġwann in his 30s and a young foreign woman residing in Xagħra, when a security guard on duty realised what they were doing and approached them, the sources said.
According to the sources, when the security caught them still holding stones they used to etch their names and messages of love, their first reaction was to tell him to get off their back, insisting they were doing nothing wrong.
Why are you making such a fuss just because I inscribed my name on this old piece of stone
“Why are you making such a fuss just because I inscribed my name on this old piece of stone,” the man reportedly told the security guard.
When the official informed him that what he was doing was very wrong, the man replied: “Are you telling me I cannot write my name on this piece of rock? I didn’t know you can’t”, the bewildered Heritage Malta sources recounted.
Both the man and the woman refused to give their particulars to the security guards on duty and the police were called in. The two were arrested and duty Magistrate Joanne Vella Cuschieri was informed. She instructed the police to conduct a full investigation.
Questions sent to the police yesterday to get further information on the case and the investigations in progress but no replies were forthcoming at the time of writing.
Those at Ġgantija are the earliest form of megalithic temples to be found in Malta. Millions of euros in EU funds have just been spent to restore the temples and build a new state-of-the-art visitors’ centre on site.
The monuments are visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists each year and are among the main destinations on Gozo’s tourist trail.
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