The Roman Villa in Zejtun, which dates back to the first and second centuries, is to be saved thanks to a preservation programme initiated by Din l-Art Helwa and the University of Malta, with the help of the HSBC Malta Foundation.

The villa is one of four remaining residential or industrial sites in Malta that date to this period, the other three being the Roman Domus in Rabat, San Pawl Milqi and Ta’ Kaccatura in Birzebbuga.

The villa remains still contain areas of the original Roman tiles and coloured stucco.

The preservation programme is expected to take two years and will protect the ruins from water infiltration, invasive vegetation, and exposure to the elements.

It will be undertaken jointly by the Department of Classics and Archaeology and the Department of the Built Environment of the University.

Urgent conservation measures are scheduled to take place after a protective tent is erected on parts of the site this summer.  Students have been involved in research and documentation.  

The villa is  located within the grounds of the St Thomas More Junior Lyceum School for Girls.

Students at this school will have a first-hand opportunity to watch the programme unfold and participate in its progress.

Simone Mizzi, executive president of Din l-Art Helwa, said the project was important to Malta as a lot of the heritage dating from Punic and Roman times had been lost. 

The project, she said, was particularly significant for Zejtun, where people took a lot of pride in the town’s cultural assets and a lot of activities were already taking place to raise awareness of the town’s rich historical past.

She thanked Martin Scicluna, wealth management director of the HSBC Malta Foundation, for recognising the value of the Roman Villa site both as an archaeological asset and for research and for making the university project become a reality.

Culture Parliamentary Secretary Mario de Marco visited the site this morning, where 65 HSBC volunteers and university students were involved in a series of initial clean ups to clear the area of invasive growth and other debris. 

Dr Nicholas Vella, who is leading the project, accompanied Dr de Marco round the site and gave him an overview of the main features of the villa and the work to be undertaken.

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