The heritage watchdog and Infrastructure Malta have dismissed allegations that historic remains meriting conservation were being destroyed by roadworks.
The Superintendence for Cultural Heritage and IM said in a statement that they were working together to safeguard Malta’s cultural heritage while implementing the national plan for sustainable road infrastructure.
They urged people not to trespass construction sites and other project areas.
“This does not only pose a health and safety risk to trespassers but can also hinder any ongoing archaeological investigations.
“Publicising potential archaeological discoveries which have not yet been documented and secured by the superintendence may also lead to pilfering, vandalism and other crimes.”
The two authorities said that IM works which could impact known or unknown structures or remains of archaeological importance were being closely monitored by qualified archaeologists.
“Archaeological discoveries during such projects do not happen by accident. The supervision of excavation and other civil works is one of several measures that the superintendence requests from IM and any other developer intending to carry out works that may somehow impact known cultural heritage or uncover new remains.
“The superintendence includes these measures as necessary conditions that the Planning Authority eventually imposes on developers when it grants the relative development permits for such works.
The superintendence and IM were following a rigorous process in the implementation of a number of ongoing national road upgrades, including the Marsa Junction Project, the Santa Lucia Underpass Project, the L-Avjazzjoni Avenue Pedestrian Overpass Project, the Central Link Project and the Il-Kuccard Road (Safi) project.
Archaeologists approved and answerable to the superintendence are monitoring the implementation of these projects and when features of interest are uncovered, they set in motion an established procedure to study them carefully.
In the case of discoveries during excavations, this process included securing the site and carefully uncovering and documenting them.
The superintendence specified the excavation method that the archaeologists would need to adopt to remove and inspect the rest of the soil and other materials, and the underlying rock surface where the features of interest were identified.
IM meanwhile supported the archaeologists by providing human resources and equipment to carry out these archaeological excavations.
At times, this work might require laborious cleaning and brushing of rock surfaces with hand tools.
Once this stage of the process was completed and all required data was compiled, the superintendence guided IM on any additional requirements that could necessitate modification of approved project plans.
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